Suspicious Behavior

Acknowledge Suspicious Activity

Many people who witness other’s suspicious activity or behaviors are uncertain about whether a crime is actually being committed. Witnesses sometimes ignore what they see because they do not want to believe it is happening, or they do not want to get involved. Criminals benefit and sometimes count on these types of responses from witnesses.

In a free society, the police are the protective strong-arm of the people. The police need the eyes and ears of the citizens to better serve everyone.

Criminals are often deterred when people report on their suspicious behavior or activity. If you see suspicious activity or a crime in progress, avoid potential harm to yourself by physically intervening. Immediately call police or 911. Be a good witness by taking photos with your phone, noting street names, addresses, location, license numbers, physical characteristics, and differentiating factors like tattoos or glasses. Write them down, because details are frequently forgotten, especially in stressful situations

Intently look and listen to assess what is actually occurring. Don’t shrug off a suspicious situations. Criminals must overcome defensive barriers and avoid detection. Criminal intent often leaks out in through body language and behavior. Suspicious behavior may be observed in noises, people, vehicles, and be related to drugs.

Noises: Be aware of unusual noises, such as glass breaking, gunshots, screaming, fighting, barking dogs or noises that might indicate dangerous or illegal activity.

People: A person sprinting or running in regular attire might be fleeing from a crime scene or police. A person running away from criminal activity moves with intensity and has a distinctly different stride where he may glance back, suddenly cross a street, and/or seem to be ready to suddenly duck down or hide. A person loitering may be a lookout guard for a partner, or waiting until the victim leaves.

Is there something subtly odd about a person pushing a shopping cart with its contents covered, or is he hiding something underneath from a home he burglarized? Is a person walking down the street or out to a car carrying a box or pulling a suit case used for traveling and moving, or have they just left a location they burglarized? Any of these actions may look unusual or out of place at certain times during the day or night. Burglars conceal stolen property in pillowcases, luggage, backpacks, plastic bags, or boxes. A person looking into a house window may be a thief casing the house for burglary, a Peeping Tom, even a rapist.

Be suspicious of unfamiliar people in your neighborhood, such as a “repairman”, solicitors, or visitors looking around your neighbor’s unoccupied house.

Vehicles: An unfamiliar vehicle parked in front or behind a residence, apartment building or place of business could be transporter for burglary, robbery, drug deal, or other crime. A person loitering in a parking garage, lurking around a vehicle, or forcibly trying to get into a vehicle could be the owner who locked keys in their car, but might also be a burglar or auto thief. One or more people sitting in a parked vehicle watching the surrounding area could be searching for someone to victimize, lookouts or drivers of a getaway car for crime. Someone being forced into a vehicle might be involved in a domestic dispute, kidnapping, or carjacking.

Drugs: Short exchanges or transactions conducted from a vehicle or bicycle may be a drug sale or exchange of stolen property. Continuously high pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic at a house or apartment is a potential indicator that drugs are being sold or bartered. If you notice continuous, excessive amounts of visitors or vehicular traffic at a neighboring house, notify the local narcotics detail at your police or sheriff’s department. Their caseload size dictates how quickly they can respond. When the narcotics detail is extremely busy, they sometimes assign a patrol unit that can also obtain search warrants, which can result in the abatement of drug dealing at that location and surrounding area.

When community members work together to eradicate drugs from their neighborhood, their efforts also reduce other crimes, especially burglary and violent crimes. Many law enforcement agencies have a community policing team that assists with illegal drug related problems. Refer to the section on Safe Streets Now Program.

Five considerations if you were to Observe Suspicious Behavior.


Awareness for Crime Prevention

Observing Suspicious Behavior

Reporting a Crime


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