Recognizing Suspicious Activity

It is important to the Dallas Police Department that citizens are alert, vigilant and report suspicious activity.  That responsibility is even more important since the attacks of 9/11/2001 on the U.S.  We ask citizens to be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious activity.  A quick accurate description of events can make a big difference in both Criminal and Terrorism related investigations.

Terrorist acts are often well planned incidents that sometimes have taken months or years of pre-incident planning.  Terror operatives work hard to blend into the community but actual community members are the most likely to spot suspicious behavior because they recognize unusual activity.  Many ‘pre-incident’ activities are not crimes. While these behaviors may not be illegal, they may well bear scrutiny, to determine if they are part of a larger operation.  You can help us by acting as our eyes and ears. No one Indicator alone necessarily indicates suspicion, it’s normally a combination.

Possible Indicators of Suspicious or Terrorist Activities:

  • Unusual or extended interest in public utilities, large public gatherings, transportation centers, government buildings and other possible terrorist targets.
  • Unusual requests for information, particularly about security or procedures for at-risk buildings.
  • Suspects may possess Forged, Altered or Stolen Identifications
  • May try to have a “cover story” or appear ‘normal’ in their behavior such as portraying a student or tourist
  • Identity Documents may be in various names
  • May carry and use large amounts of cash
  • Unusual rentals, purchases, deliveries, or thefts, particularly of poisonous or flammable chemicals, explosives, weapons or vehicles (including planes or boats).
  • Multiple sightings of the same suspicious person, vehicle, or activity.
  • Individuals sitting in a parked car for an extended period of time.
  • Individuals who don't fit into the surrounding environment because they are wearing improper attire for the location or season.
  • Individuals drawing pictures or taking notes of an area not normally of interest to tourists or showing  interest in or photographing security cameras, guard locations, or watching security procedures.
  • Someone engaging in photography of something not normally a tourist attraction such as a bridge or dam, power plant or electrical facility.
  • Loitering around potential target with no apparent or valid reason
  • Testing security by breaching restricted areas to determine response
  • Tampering with electrical, water, gas, or sewer systems
  • Terrorists may conduct training, surveillance and "dry runs" prior to an act.
  • Terrorists may conduct surveillance to determine a target's suitability for attack by assessing the capabilities of existing security and discerning weaknesses in the facility.

When contacting the Police, it’s important for you to be able to articulate:

  1. Who you observed (a description)
  2. What did you see, be specific
  3. Where was it
  4. When did you see it
  5. Why in your opinion was it suspicious?  Remember, you are more aware of what’s normal for your community than anyone else, but you need to be able to communicate that

In describing a suspect it is most helpful if you can provide information on as many of the following as possible:

  • Race/Sex/Age
  • Height/Weight/Hair color
  • Peculiarities (Scars-tattoos—missing limbs—noticeable features)
  • Weapons (if any)
  • Clothing description
  • Method/Direction of travel

In describing a vehicle, try to obtain:

  • License plate of vehicle (most important)
  • Year/Make/Model of vehicle
  • Color
  • Damage or Outstanding features (One headlight, logos, antennae etc.)

If you feel you need to report any of the Police.​​​​​