WATCHUNG, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Unusually warm weather and darker nights can be a bad combination for holiday shoppers, with a higher risk of criminal activity.

At the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey, a young attorney was murdered in front of his wife in the mall’s parking deck after a night of holiday shopping. Surveillance video showed carjackers scoping out the mall’s parking lot days before for their target of choice.

Shoppers have become more vigilant since then.

“You just have to be careful, cautious — look around, know your surroundings — try not to park at the darkest, darkest end of the parking lot,” Staci Gialanella, of Scotch Plains, said.

But there’s more you can do to stay safe in parking lots, CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported.

“When you’re coming to your car, when you’re exiting the mall, if you’re feeling unsafe at all you can dial 911 on your phone and just have your thumb ready to press send if there’s something that you’re uncomfortable with,” Dan Coleman, a former detective, said.

Also, Coleman says to make a mental note of where you park your car.

“So you’re not unlocking your car and your lights are going off, projecting where you’re headed toward your car,” Coleman said.

Coleman says if a criminal approaches you — give them whatever they want.

The bottom line: trust your instinct. If you’re in a parking lot and feel uncomfortable, or feel like someone’s following you — pick up your phone and call 911 or just go back in the store where there are people.

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