What is Suspicious Activity?

From the desk of Amy Keller, CPP, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey Director of Security Initiatives and External Affairs

We are all familiar with the adage: If you see something, say something -- in other words, report suspicious occurrences or observations to law enforcement and, in the case of the Jewish community, to Jewish Federation's Security Director.

With our nation’s and community's growing emphasis on prevention of crime and terrorism, individuals and organizations are needed to come forward and provide valuable information. We all play a role in keeping our communities safe. 

But WHAT IS SUSPICIOUS and what should be reported? The answer is: any type of activity or circumstance that seems unusual. 

Even if you think your observation or incident is not important, it may be a piece of a larger puzzle and could potentially stop the next terrorist attack or criminal incident. 

REMEMBER...Do not be shy. Your job is simply to relay information. What you see and report may save lives.

What Are Suspicious Activities?

Suspicious activity is an incident, event, or individual that seems unusual or out of place. Common examples include:

  • A stranger loitering around your school, synagogue or building
  • A vehicle slowly cruising the parking lot repeatedly
  • Parked, occupied vehicles containing one or more persons — especially if seen at an unusual hour
  • Strangers removing license plates or loading valuables into vehicles
  • Individuals taking pictures or video of persons, facility, buildings, parking lots
  • Someone peering into cars or windows
  • Attempting unauthorized access to facility areas
  • Unattended packages in or around your facility
  • Strange odors
  • Open doors or windows when your school or synagogue is closed
  • Someone tampering with electrical, gas or sewer systems without an identifiable company vehicle or uniform
  • Sounds of breaking glass, gunshots, screaming or fighting
  • Individuals exhibiting unusual mental or physical behaviors
  • Eliciting information by phone, email, or in person by individuals with probing questions to your organization beyond a level of curiosity
  • Suspicious communications (text messages, phone calls, voice mail messages, emails, letters, or packages, etc.)
  • Distribution of propaganda — flyers on property or surrounding neighborhoods
  • Deliberate interactions with, or challenges to, security personnel
  • Testing security systems, intentionally setting off access alarms, fire alarms
  • Testing IT systems to assess the strength or weakness

What Details to Report? 

REMEMBER the 5Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. 

  1. Who did you see? Provide a detailed description of persons, vehicles. 
  2. What did you see happening?
  3. When did you see it? How long did it last?
  4. Where did it occur? Describe exact location, surroundings, pertinent landmarks.
  5. Why did it strike you as suspicious, out of place or unusual? Why did it make you feel uncomfortable?

What Steps to Take in Reporting

Community members and organizations' staff and volunteers should know how to report suspicious activities, crimes in progress, or possible terrorist activities:

  • Dial 911 to call local police in the event of an emergency
  • Follow the 5Ws to tell the call taker what happened (who, what, when, where, and why)
  • Remain on the phone and stay calm
  • Be prepared to answer follow-up questions
  • Complete the Incident Report provided through Federation's website
  • Alert Federation's Security Director, who will follow up with appropriate law enforcement authorities: email amyk@jewishheartnj.org or call 732-588-1817

Trust Your Instincts

If an incident, individual, vehicle, or circumstance seems "off," do not hesitate to call the police and report it. Let law enforcement make the decision on what response to take. Your responsibility as a concerned community member is to help the police help you and others.

FOR MORE INFORMATION regarding Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey Security Initiatives, PLEASE CONTACT: Director of Security Initiatives, Amy Keller, CPP. Email amyk@jewishheartnj.org or call 732-588-1817.


Add Comment
Subscribe to posts