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What is Suspicious?

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The effectiveness of your local police department's crime prevention efforts can be greatly enhanced when private citizens, like you, your family and your neighbors, take an active part. This can be through activities as formal as a neighborhood watch program, or as casual as just periodically looking out your windows.

By calling to report suspicious persons or activities, you not only aid the police, you make your community a safer place to live. Often, many people see things happening that register as "odd" in the back of their mind, but at a conscious level, they're much too busy doing something else to stop, analyze and react to what they've seen.

Others may see suspicious activity, but hesitate to call officials for fear of being labeled a "busy body". Still others make the assumption that someone else will call.

Basically, anything that seems even slightly "out of place", or is occurring at an unusual time of day or night, could be criminal activity. Here are some of the most obvious things to watch for and report:

  • A stranger entering your neighbor's house when it's unoccupied.
  • A scream heard anywhere may mean a robbery or assault is taking place.
  • Offers of merchandise at ridiculously low prices could mean stolen property.
  • Anyone removing accessories, license plates or gasoline from a vehicle.
  • Anyone walking up or down the street peering into parked cars.
  • People entering or leaving a business well after regular business hours.
  • The sound of breaking glass or loud explosive noises.
  • Individuals loitering around schools, parks or secluded areas.
  • Individuals loitering in the neighborhood who do not live there.
  • Anyone using force to enter a vehicle, residence or business.

Not every stranger in your neighborhood is going to be a criminal. There are many perfectly legitimate door-to-door sales people, as well as repair and service technicians and trades people who do have legitimate business around our neighborhoods. Just remember, criminals take advantage of this by often assuming the guise of a legitimate business representative.

  • Always ask for and carefully check the identification of all solicitors, meter readers, and repairmen prior to allowing them entry into your home. If there is ever any doubt, lock your door and call the business or utility for verification. Be suspicious of alleged delivery people with a wrong address, or anyone asking if someone else lives at your address.
  • Be suspicious of anyone going door-to-door in your neighborhood. Watch them carefully, and if your notice that they try the door to see if it is locked, look into windows, or go into alleyways or backyards, report it to the police immediately.
  • Be suspicious of anyone casually walking through the neighborhood looking into vehicles, backyards, etc. Be suspicious of anyone running, particularly if he or she is carrying something of value. Be suspicious of people carrying property at unusual hours and in unusual places.
  • Be suspicious of any vehicle moving slowly and without their headlights on, if dark, or following a course that appears aimless or repetitive. That includes your neighborhood and areas around schools, parks and playgrounds.
  • Be suspicious of apparent business transactions conducted from a vehicle. Be suspicious of persons being forced into a vehicle. Be suspicious of any abandoned vehicle that appears in your neighborhood. And, be suspicious if you see a flashlight beam inside a neighbor's home, especially if they are away.

Many of these situations could have innocent explanations. But any law enforcement officer will tell you he or she would rather investigate 20 potential criminal situations that prove harmless than be called to one when it's too late. Your call could save a life, prevent an injury, or stop a criminal act.


Mark and Carol Rogers

The owners of Keystone Security, Carole and Mark Rogers, can answer your personal security questions via e-mail. csrogers@security4u.com or mrogers@security4u.com and also provide technical consultation and advice for industrial and commercial security applications nationwide.

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Last updated June 9, 2014