Sentinel Handbook

Tips for security, safety, and crime prevention volunteers

Patrol Tips: Identifying Suspicious Individuals

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While on safety watch patrol, it is your task to make sure the neighborhood is safe. The identification of suspicious individuals who may be up to no good is very important. Now, not everyone that acts suspicious will be guilty of criminal activity, but then you’re not a mind reader either, so make your observations discreetly, or be as obvious as you feel the situation warrants.

What to look for.. People wearing hoodies, hats, sunglasses, and other obstructing apparel that conceals their identity. By themselves these items do not raise suspicion, but hats pulled down over the face, hoodies pulled up and faces turned down or away, etc, should attract your attention. You can generally tell when someone is ‘hiding’ their face, attempting to go unnoticed.

Is someone hunched over, keeps turning away from observers and cameras, and looking around to see if anyone is watching? Do they stick to the shadows, or use poles, columns, or other terrain to conceal their presence? Do they ‘feel wrong’ to you? Your sub-conscious mind receives far more sensory input than your conscious mind and might be telling you something you’re not noticing.

Has someone left a box, bag, or package unattended? Did they enter carrying a parcel, but leave without one? That person making a call from the phone booth left a bag behind, and then someone else came along and carried it away? Be cautious of situations involving unknown containers and packages.

Has someone entered the store wearing an inappropriately heavy jacket, or backpack? Do they appear to be fiddling with their pack or pockets while alone in aisles? Are they carrying their hands along the outsides of their jacket pockets to keep items from swaying too much? Are their pockets now bulging when at first they seemed empty?

If something seems out of the ordinary, simply observe and take notes (physically or mentally). Should the need to report individuals or activities arise, do so safely.

Related Articles:

Types of Suspicious Activity

Recognizing and Dealing With Suspicious People

Suspicious People


Written by Silver Sentinel

April 13, 2013 at 2:49 am

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