By reporting suspicious activity in your neighborhood and community, you can help law enforcement agencies deter and reduce crime, thereby keeping your home, family and fellow citizens as safe as possible. The following information will help you in determine what activity you should report and what to expect after you do.
Suspicious Activities You Should Report to Law enforcement
Unusual sounds such as screams, shouts, or dogs barking incessantly should be investigated cautiously and reported if your instincts tell you something is wrong. When you hear these noises in broad daylight or at nighttime, you should look outside to see if you can spot anything specific. Do not go outside unprotected and alone. Stay inside and look out of windows to observe. If your gut instinct is telling you this could be a life threatening event call 911 and report it immediately.
If you spot anyone going door-to-door looking in windows and parked cars whether you are in your neighborhood or in a mall parking lot, etc…report it to authorities. It could be a burglar.
If someone shows up at your door during the day or night that you do not know, never open the door! See if you can verify who they are by asking through a door “Who is it and what do you want?” If it is someone asking to use the phone, tell them “I will call the police for you and they will come to assist you.” If they are legitimate, they will welcome help from the police, and if not they will leave the premise. Either way you have reported it and law enforcement will know who to look for if a crime is committed in your neighborhood in the time frame before and after they were at your home. If possible discreetly look out a window and try to get a description of the person or vehicle if there is one. This will help the police!
If you see property being taken from a business or home, call 911 to report it! You could be witnessing a burglary. Get a description on the person or persons and write it down for authorities.
A parked or slow moving vehicle roaming with no apparent destination or lights should be reported. It could be a thief or someone looking to abduct a child. Always report this and give a description of the vehicle and driver if possible. You should report this using law enforcement’s non-emergency number.
Anyone you see being forced into a vehicle, or a stranger talking to a child alone should be reported immediately. You could be witnessing abduction, call 911.
Basically anything that seems out of the ordinary or “out of place” even slightly could be criminal activity and should be reported to law enforcement officials. Call 911 only if the suspicious activity you see or hear could be a life threatening situation. Otherwise, leave those lines open for actual emergencies and call your local law enforcement’s non-emergency number.
What Happens When You Call Law Enforcement Agencies to Report Suspicious Activities
An officer will generally come to you are or your home after you’ve reported suspicious activity and ask you a few questions. You will be asked: a) about the type of incident reported, b) if the crime is still happening, c) where did you see or hear the suspicious activity, d) what did you see, e) if you can describe the suspect’s age, sex, race, height, weight, eye color, clothing, voice or unusual marks, and f) if you can describe the vehicle’s make, model, year, body style, license number, and any identifying features such as -dents, decals, etc.
It will be most helpful to police officers if you can remember as much as you can of these details. For SC residents who want more information on reporting suspicious activity click South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. For other state’s residents, contact your local Law Enforcement Agencies for specific instructions on how to report suspicious activity.
The point of this article is to encourage citizens to be aware of your surroundings at all times and be willing to report suspicious activity to appropriate officials. It could save your life as well as others!
Information Booklet for SC Citizens made available by: The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office entitled “Safe and Secure” How Safe Are You? Oct. 2011
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; www.sled.sc.gov