Woman felt suspicious men targeted her

June 16, 2010 4:42:16 AM PDT
There's a warning going out about how criminals target women in places like strip center parking lots. This is the story of one woman, but it may be happening to many more. The woman was leaving a parking lot in Spring near the North Freeway and Rayford Road when suddenly she realized something was very wrong.

That busy parking lot just south of The Woodlands is the last place Teresa Harris thought she wouldn't be safe.

"We go there all the time," Harris said.

But last week, Harris thinks she and a friend almost became a statistic.

"We think they're targeting women," she said.

All they were doing was trying to pick up the friend's car they had left at the base of a light post while they made a day trip to Dallas.

"I felt I did everything to be cautious and safe, and it still happened," Harris said.

It was 8:30pm, and the two women were sitting in Harris' vehicle saying their goodbyes when a man on a cell phone knocked on her window. She didn't open it, but he didn't leave.

"Then he moved around to the front of the car, and looked underneath it, looked at my tire, then looked underneath it, as if something was wrong with my vehicle," Harris said.

All of a sudden, a white BMW pulled behind her, and within seconds, she saw a light-colored SUV coming towards her. There were four men in all.

She believes they were trying to box them in. She hit the gas. They got away safely.

"To think of what might have happened to us is frightening," Harris said.

"These guys sound like they were working with one another, and they had probably done it once or twice before," said former Houston Police Officer Matt Ross.

Ross now trains police officers. He describes what happened as a smarter version of a carjacking and calls Harris lucky.

"It's lucky she had the presence of mind to watch her surroundings and not be too quick to trust anybody," Ross said.

The mother of two small children has a different take.

"I felt the Lord was watching over us and protecting us," she said.

Now, she wants her story to serve as a reminder to stay alert.

"Just to realize that no place is safe," she said.

She said two of the men were Hispanic, one was white and the last was black. She says she was also suspicious because the man who knocked on her window was wearing a zipped-up jacket, and it was 90 degrees outside.

Afterwards, the two women found a police officer who escorted them back to the parking lot to get the second car.

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