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Capital Watch: What to Describe when You See Suspicious Behavior

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You can only identify a terrorist threat by observing or hearing about suspicious activity that may lead to a criminal act.

Factors such as race, ethnicity, and/or religious affiliation are NOT suspicious. The public should only report suspicious behavior and situations (e.g., an unattended backpack or package, or someone breaking into a restricted area). Only reports that document behavior that is reasonably indicative of criminal activity related to terrorism will be shared with federal partners.

Following are some general tips and guidelines on what to do if you witness suspicious behavior:

Describe a Person

  • Sex
  • Race
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Build (medium, heavy)
  • Hair (color, length, include facial hair)
  • Complexion (light, dark, olive)
  • Peculiarities (scars, tattoos, missing limbs)
  • Clothing (from head to toe, style, etc.)
  • Weapons (if any)
  • Method of transportation (direction, vehicle, etc.)

Describe a Vehicle

  • License plate and state (most important!)
  • Year, make, model and color
  • Body type (2-door, 4-door, van, SUV)
  • Number of passengers
  • Damage or anything unusual (logos, etc.)

Report Suspicious Activity

  • To report immediate threats or emergencies, call 911
  • To report suspicious activity or behavior, call (202) 727-9099
  • Make a report using iWATCH (What is iWATCH?)

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