Heighten your security awareness and remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Whether you're at work, at home, or out-and-about, be alert to and report suspicious activity. Know your surroundings and who or what should or shouldn’t be there. If you see something suspicious, report it immediately. Don't make judgments about what may or may not be a serious situation and don't assume that someone else has called the police. Safety and security is everyone’s responsibility!
Notice Suspicious Behavior
- Someone paying unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes:
- Extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations).
- Unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (e.g., with binoculars or video camera).
- Taking notes or measurements, counting paces, sketching floor plans, etc.
- Someone asking questions about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures, personnel, shift changes, etc., at a level beyond curiosity.
- Someone bragging or talking about plans to harm people in violent attacks or claiming interest in or membership in a terrorist organization that advocates the killing of innocent people.
- Packages or mail that have:
- Unusual bulges, leaks, stains or protruding wires.
- Handwritten addresses from companies.
- Wrapping with string or excessive amounts tape.
- Excessive postage or no postage at all.
- Improper spellings of common places or titles.
- A backpack, piece of luggage, or briefcase that has been left unattended or abandoned in a crowded place like a shopping center, airport, sporting event, office building, or school.
- Someone suspiciously exiting a secured, non-public area near a train station, airport, tunnel, bridge, government building, or tourist attraction.
- Any type of activity or situation that seems alarming or unusual within the normal routines of your community or workplace.
- An unfamiliar person loitering in a parking lot, government building, or around a school or playground.
- Strange or illegally parked vehicles.
- Chemical smells or fumes that don't seem normal.
- Found weapons or drugs. Do not handle these; call security or the police and provide the location.
Pay Attention to Possible Trouble
- Unusual celebrations of terrorist incidents. (A recent terror plot was foiled when neighbors reported a gathering of revelers in an apartment complex on the anniversary of 9/11.)
- Previous activity or crimes.
- Controversial issues being debated.
- Suspicious thefts.
Get to Know Your Surroundings
You should know:
- Who your neighbors are.
- What cars are normally in your neighborhood.
- Who regularly makes deliveries at work and in your neighborhood.
Other Indications of Suspicious Activity
Suspicious activity from your neighbors, visitors, and guests includes:
- Arriving and leaving at unusual hours.
- Trying not to be noticed.
- Acting in a suspicious manner.
- Parking an unusual distance from the residence.
- Having an unusual number of unrelated people living together.
- Only letting you into the apartment or house with plenty of prior notice.
- Changing the locks often.
- Keeping certain rooms off limits.
- Covering tables and other pieces of furniture.
- Never allowing maid service in a hotel room.
- Only taking hotel room service outside the door.
- Only accepting deliveries at the hotel’s front desk or outside a closed door.
Not all people who maintain privacy are terrorists. However, individuals intent on committing illegal acts generally prefer to be left alone.
Confronting Suspicious People at Work
During the course of your job you may have to challenge a suspicious person. "Challenge" means to tactfully and politely greet the individual and offer your assistance. If a person is here for legitimate reasons, he or she will appreciate the attention that you show them. Someone with the intent of engaging in criminal activity does not want attention drawn to them. It is not your role to replace law enforcement or security.
Never enter into a situation where you feel unsafe. If you feel uncomfortable challenging a suspicious person, or if your suspicions continue after making contact, report the situation to law enforcement or security immediately.
Here are common guidelines to follow when approaching a suspicious person, regardless of the circumstances:
- Make eye contact and politely greet the person: "Good evening, how can I help you?"
- Act with discretion and use tact.
- Politely inquire whether the person is a visitor, student, or employee.
- Do not accuse them or speculate as to what they might be doing.
- Do not threaten or intimidate.
- If necessary, contact security or your supervisor.
Report your concerns to law enforcement. You can make a difference!