See Something Say Something

"If You See Something, Say Something" 

An alert public plays an important role in keeping our community and neighborhoods safe. Simply, be aware of your surroundings when in public and promptly report something that seems potentially suspicious.

 What is potentially suspicious behavior? You know best what is normal or what may be out of the ordinary as you go about your daily routine, you know your surroundings and no one can spot something odd or out of place better than you. You are encouraged to use common sense and trust your instincts to report questionable objects or behavior that could be indicative of crime or terrorism.

What To Look For

 The following are a few examples to help you identify a questionable object or behavior in a public place: 

  • An unattended bag, briefcase or box in a public venue
  • Someone tampering with property
  • Strangers loitering or entering rooms, offices, or labs with no apparent legitimate cause
  • Strange vehicles parked in your area
  • Any behavior that is out of character on a college campus
  • Packages left unattended
  • Suspicious or noxious odors
  • Someone drawing or measuring important buildings
  • Strangers asking questions about security or building security procedures
  • Cars or trucks left in No Parking Zones in front of important buildings or venues
  • Unusual smells or smoke that worries you
  • The purchase of supplies or equipment that can be used to make bombs or weapon

Potentially suspicious behavior in a neighborhood: 

  • Anyone forcible entering a car or home
  • Unfamiliar vehicles driving slowly up and down the street 
  • Unfamiliar occupants in parked vehicles
  • Frequent short term visitors to a home or apartment
  • Unlicensed door to door solicitors
  • Broken windows in homes


How To Report Something 

For imminent threats and suspicious or criminal activity that is occurring right now, always call 9-1-1. Otherwise, call your local police department. For Boise Police dispatchers and all law enforcement in Ada County, call 377-6790. 

DO NOT take direct action, confront anyone, reveal your suspicions or touch an object. Just contact the authorities.  

Homeland Security Begins with Hometown Security

About the Campaign, from the Department of Homeland Security

The nationwide "If You See Something, Say Something™" public awareness campaign - is a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities. The campaign was originally used by New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which has licensed the use of the slogan to DHS for anti-terrorism and anti-terrorism crime related efforts.

What To Do If You Spot Suspicious Terrorist Activity If you see suspicious behavior, do not confront the individuals involved.

Take note of the details:

S – Size (Jot down the number of people, gender, ages, and physical descriptions)

A - Activity (Describe exactly what they are doing)

L - Location (Provide exact location)

U – Uniform (Describe what they are wearing, including shoes)

T – Time (Provide date, time, and duration of activity)

E - Equipment (Describe vehicle, make, color etc., license plate, camera, guns, etc)

Suspicious activity is often recalled after an event. We must train ourselves to be on the lookout for things that are out of the ordinary and arouse suspicions.

Keep in mind, those who commit terrorist acts:

Usually live among us without appearing suspicious while planning and preparing for their attack. They may be your neighbor, student or friend.

Often they will need training or equipment that will arouse suspicion.

Need to conduct surveillance on possible targets and gather information on the planned attcak location.

All of these things make terrorists vulnerable to detection, by those watching for certain characteristics.

Learn to recognize the difference between normal and abnormal behavior. It can be a fine line. Stay alert in your daily travels and routines and get to know:

  • Who your neighbors are
  • What cars are normally in your neighborhood
  • Who regularly makes deliveries at work and in your neighborhood

Staying alert is NOT about becoming paranoid. Staying alert is being aware of one’s surroundings. Be alert to indications of possible trouble. They may include:

  • A local activity that could indicate problems in your community.
  • One of the clues that led to the recent break-up of a terrorist plot was that several of the cell members were spotted celebrating in an apartment complex on the anniversary of 911.
  • Previous activity or crimes.
  • Controversial issues being debated.
  • Suspicious thefts.

It is impossible to identify a terrorist by

  • Appearance
  • Nationality
  • Language

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

Identifying suspicious activity is not a difficult science. Rely on your judgment. Your suspicion of a threat could be confirmed with only one incident or it could take a series of incidents. Your suspicions will need to be based on:

  • Experience
  • Judgment
  • Common sense

Review some possible suspicious activity.

Here is just one example:

Unusual Interest in High Risk or Symbolic Targets

Maybe you are at a high profile location or, perhaps a National Monument and you notice a person nearby taking several photos. That’s not unusual. But then you notice that the person is only taking photos of the locations surveillance cameras, entrence crash barriers and access control procedures. Is that normal for a tourist? Not.

The following should cause a heightened sense of suspicion:

  • suspicious or unusual interest
  • surveillance (suspicious in nature)
  • inappropriate photographs or videos
  • note-taking
  • drawing of diagrams
  • annotating maps
  • using binoculars or night vision devices

Unusual or suspicious activity does not necessarily mean that terrorist activity is happening, but be aware of the following suspicious behaviors:

  • Individuals acting furtively and suspiciously
  • Individuals avoiding eye contact
  • Individuals departing quickly when seen or approached
  • Individuals in places they don’t belong
  • A strong odor coming from a building or vehicle
  • An overloaded vehicle
  • Fluid leaking from a vehicle, other than the engine or gas tank
  • Over dressed for the type of weather

Fraudulent Identification

Many of the 9/11 terrorists were in the country illegally and using fraudulent IDs. Altering or using false government identification in any way and for any purpose is against the law.

Read a recent news article we featured discussing this.

Fraudulent ID’s include:

  • drivers license
  • social security card
  • passport
  • birth certificate
  • INS identification

If you believe someone is using or has altered government identification, please notify the law enforcement authrities. Do NOT request to see another person’s ID when not appropriate. Allow law enforcements to do the investigating.

Terrorists, when not acting alone, need to meet with their conspirators and often times work within a cell. Pay attention to visitors and guests that

  • arrive and leave at unusual hours
  • try not to be noticed
  • act in a suspicious manner
  • park an unusual distance from the meeting
  • have an unusual number of unrelated people living together
  • Not all people who maintain privacy are terrorists. But people intent on doing illegal acts want to be left alone.

Some signs that may raise your suspicions.

  • they only let you into the apartment or house with plenty of prior notice
  • they change the locks often
  • they keep certain rooms off limits
  • they cover tables and other pieces of furniture
  • they never allow maid service in a hotel room
  • they only take hotel room service outside the door
  • they only accept deliveries at the hotel’s front desk or outside a closed door

Deliveries are a common method for terrorists to carry out their attacks. Be aware of:

  • a vehicle with hazardous material parked or driving in an inappropriate area
  • unusual deliveries of chemicals or fertilizer
  • unattended bags or boxes in a public access place
  • fire extinguishers that may have been moved or tampered with
  • unusual or unexpected mail

Unusual Purchases or Thefts

Terrorists need supplies to carry out their attacks and accomplish their goals.

Pay attention to purchases, rentals or thefts of:

  • police, security, public utility, mail carrier, or airline uniforms and equipment
  • explosives
  • weapons
  • ammunition
  • propane bottles
  • toxic chemicals
  • vehicles able to contain or haul hazardous materials

Additional suspicious activity may include:

  • Someone bragging or talking about plans to harm citizens in violent attacks or who claims membership in a terrorist organization that espouses killing innocent people.
  • Suspicious packages, luggage, or mail that have been abandoned in a crowded place like an office building, an airport, a school, or a shopping center.
  • Suspicious letter or package that arrives in your mailbox. (Stay away from the letter or package and don’t shake, bump or sniff it; wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Someone suspiciously exiting a secured, non-public area near a train or bus depot, airport, tunnel, bridge, government building, or tourist attraction.
  • Any type of activity or circumstance that seems frightening or unusual within the normal routines of your neighborhood, community, and workplace.
  • Someone unfamiliar loitering in a parking lot, government building, or around a school or playground.
  • Anyone asking a lot of questions ‹ especially concerning routes or loads or drop-off times.
  • Recruiters should be alert for unusual employment applications. Don’t assume it couldn’t be an inside job.
  • A trucker returning to his or her vehicle from a restaurant or truck stop should make sure no one is loitering around the truck. Watch out for walk-arounds.