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It scared me
April 17, 2014 - Heather Ziegler
I realize now I should have called the police. But I just wanted to get away. Last Friday I was at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville. I made a couple of purchases and had two bags in my
hands along with my purse and my car keys as I headed out to the parking lot outside of Sears. I usually park at the end of a row where there are no cars around to bang into my doors and I know it's
healthier to walk a few extra feet for the exercise. It was still daylight. I often shop alone and rarely think much about it -- until now. As I approached my car I noticed another vehicle parked right next
to my car but it was headed in the opposite direction. A young man came from the side of the vehicle. It startled me as he walked toward me. He had a very obvious southern
accent. He asked if I lived nearby and could I spare a few dollars so he could buy some gas for his vehicle.
He said he and his girlfriend (who was slumped down in the front seat of their vehicle. I believe she was texting on her phone) had been at the rest stop on I-70 and he "lost" his wallet. He may have
even said someone stole his wallet but already my heart was beating a little faster. He continued to talk about being from North Carolina, while I planned my escape. He was looking around very
nervously and the woman just stared at me through the windshield. I said I was sorry that I was tapped out and then walked very fast to my car. I hopped into my car, locked the doors and drove
across the parking lot.
Meantime, the young man had gotten into his SUV and sped off. I watched him drive erratically toward the Gabriel's store. As I began to assess the situation, my knees started shaking a bit. I
believe that if someone else hadn't pulled into the lot at the time the stranger was asking me for money, I may have been assaulted and my purse stolen. If the young man had been robbed or even if
he had lost his wallet why wouldn't he report it to the authorities who could have helped him out? Why did the woman never get out of the vehicle? All of these things were running through my mind
as I headed home.
In hindsight I should have alerted someone and I apologize for that. Now I'm just letting you, the readers, know that we do have to be vigilant. We can't be complacent even when
going through our daily routines of shopping, banking or even just taking a walk. Think about the crimes that have occurred around us in the past few weeks -- multiple bank robberies and
shootings in Steubenville. I don't mind helping people when I can, but I look at the world around me a little different these days after that experience at the mall. I do not plan to be as vulnerable
to the bad guys.
I'm glad the mall has security that travels through the parking lots but they can't be everywhere all the time. The same goes for The Highlands. I do see sheriff's deputies riding around there but they,
too, cannot be everywhere all the time.
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