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May 31, 2011 > When to report suspicious activity

When to report suspicious activity

Submitted By Geneva Bosques

Do you ever feel like something is suspicious? Then, wonder whether or not it should be reported to the Police?

This past week several reports of suspicious vehicles have been reported on various neighborhood email groups. The messages and alerts are great, but it is very important that you FIRST call the Police and THEN tell your neighbors. Most neighborhood groups are monitored by Police staff, but unfortunately the email could go hours or even a day or two before being read. Suspicious activity is important and needs to be reported right away. By reporting the activity directly to our Dispatch Center they can send a Police Officer to check it out. Please call 790-6800, option 3 to report non-emergency incidents to the Police.

Recognizing Suspicious Activity
If you have difficulty deciding whether something is suspicious or not, just take a moment to notice how you feel about what you are observing. If it seems wrong, out of place, unusual or just a little weird, it probably is. BE ALERT. Anything that seems slightly 'out of place' or is occurring at an unusual time of day could be criminal activity. Examples are: Unusual noises, dogs barking continuously, banging, glass breaking, people running - especially if they are carrying something of value, people loitering around or peering into cars, people peering into houses, loitering or driving slowly through a neighborhood and parked or occupied vehicles especially at an unusual hour.

In many cases, criminals sometimes pretend to be door-to-door solicitors or report to be looking for a "friend" to determine which houses are vacant by knocking on the door. If there is no response to the knock, they may try to gain entry to the house through a side or backyard. First, look through your peep hole. If you do not know the person at the door, do not open the door. Talk to them through the closed door and tell them you are not interested and to please move on. If they are not displaying corporate credentials in the form of their shirt or ID card, they don't have a clipboard or business related materials, then it would fall into the category of being suspicious. After you call the police then warn your neighbors there is an unwanted solicitor in the neighborhood. If the solicitor is persistent or argumentative inform the Dispatcher of that when you call.

Time and accuracy are critical in reporting suspicious events. Call the Police to report suspicious activity at the time you observe it - before you talk to your neighbors or family members about it. You know your neighborhood, so you know who belongs and what kind of activity is common. An Officer unfamiliar with a neighborhood cannot see everything like you can. They don't know who belongs and who doesn't. We need your eyes and ears to observe activity - but we also need you to call us to report it. The non-emergency number is 790-6800, option 3. When you make the call, be ready to report the following:

Describe events:
Be prepared to answer why it looks or feels suspicious to you. Report who, what, when, where, how many people, walking, running, driving, etc.

Describe vehicles:
Report the license plate number, state, make, type (i.e. SUV, sedan, 2 door, 4 door, etc.), color and approximate age. Include any special designs or unusual features such as vinyl top, custom wheels, body damage or racing stripes.

Describe person(s):
Sex, race, age, estimated height and weight, hair color and length, hat, facial hair, clothing, shoes, any peculiar or distinguishable mannerisms, scars or tattoos

We know that it's not always easy to make the determination on whether or not to place a call to the police department for suspicious activity. The best advice we can give is that if you feel like something isn't right or you are questioning whether or not you should call, then it's probably best to make the call. Let us determine whether or not the people or vehicle belongs to the neighborhood and remember never put yourself or family in harms way - your safety always comes first.

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