Knoxville (WVLT) - You never want to think about something like this happening to you or someone you know.
But you always need to be prepared for the unthinkable.
Volunteer TV’s Allison Hunt spoke with police to find out what you can do to protect yourself.
Something like this can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time. Police say predators look for people who are vulnerable. So your best bet, is to stay alert.
Parking lots can have lights, security cameras and warning signs, but police officers say you are your best line of defense.
"The big thing is just pay attention to what's going on around you. If you see someone following you inside the store, or out in the parking lot, if you feel somebody coming up behind you, and it makes you feel uncomfortable, then go back inside the store,” says Knoxville Police Sergeant Bryan Malone.
Sgt. Bryan Malone says when you're going in and out of a store have something in your hand. "Have your cell phone ready so you can call the police, if you feel safer carrying pepper spray, then by all means carry something like that."
Or even something like your car keys.
(Penny Sherwood) "I always have my keys in my hand already, I just make that a habit." And now with a 1 month old baby, Penny Sherwood makes it a habit to keep an eye over her shoulder. "I look around for other cars, maybe people sitting in their cars, just kind of be aware."
And be aware of where you park...make sure it's well lit.
"Remember where you parked, that's the main thing, I see people all the time wandering around the parking lot, 'where'd I park my car', so that's the key,” Sgt Malone says.
"You can't be too safe." Carolyn McGinnis thinks about her and her granddaughter's safety a lot. "I'm always trying to tell her, stay with me, and stuff, if you get away from me, you don't know what kind of predator's are out there now."
"Just pay attention to what's going on around you, if something makes you feel funny then it probably is,” adds Sgt. Malone.
Again, here are a few ways to protect yourself, always pay attention to your surroundings, carry something like car keys or cell phone with you, park in a well lit area and alert police of any suspicious activity.
You can never be too careful.