Tips and Leads on Suspicious Activity

Citizens, households, schools and communities have received a call to action that is reasonable for a nation facing new threats and challenges. The federal "readiness campaign" essentially asks citizens to:

  • Be vigilant
  • Take sensible precautions
  • Remain productive

The campaign message is as simple as "Be Cautious and Alert."

Do those things that are practical and appropriate to your setting and don't let fear of terrorism interfere with your life mission. At the heart of prevention are watching out, helping out, protecting yourself, reporting and creating neighborhoods and communities in which citizens are active and contribute.

Any threat or risk that put lives in immediate danger is an emergency and should be reported to your local law enforcement agency by calling 9-1-1. Be prepared to provide the 911 operator with the following information:

  • Exact location of the threat or danger you observed
  • As much detail as you can provide about the emergency; Try to stay calm and take note of the circumstances of the event, including physical descriptions of the perpetrators, license plate numbers and directions of travel
  • If a person is injured, tell the dispatcher as much as possible about how the injury happened and the person's condition 

In non-emergencies you have a great asset to draw upon - your experience - when deciding what is suspicious. You know what is normal for your neighborhood, workplace and daily routines. If a behavior or an event seems to be outside the norm or is frightening, let law enforcement authorities know.

When reporting suspicious activity it is helpful to give the most accurate description possible of the situation including persons you observed, vehicles that were involved, the cause of your concern and where any suspicious persons have gone. Try to remember the exact time and place that you witnessed the suspicious activity.

Contact your local law enforcement agency and office of homeland security in the event you are told of, overhear or observe someone:

  • Discussing a future plan for a terrorist act
  • Using a gun or other weapon in an unlawful manner
  • Discussing mail or delivery of a dangerous package or letter
  • Discussing a bomb or explosive device
  • Planning to release a poisonous substance into the air, water or food supply
  • Bragging or talking about killing or harming citizens in terrorist attacks or claiming membership in an organization that espouses killing innocent people
  • Engaging in a suspicious activity, such as someone unfamiliar to you loitering in a parking lot, government building or around a school or playground

If you believe you have information that would help authorities do not intervene; instead, inform your local police department or office of homeland security. To locate contact information for the homeland security office in your state go to the DHS Tip Box on the homepage.