Published on: Thursday, July 27, 2017 News Alert

Please Report Suspicious Activity. What is Suspicious Activity?

The success of the Takoma Park Police Department is enhanced by the active involvement of the residents of Takoma Park. When you call to report suspicious activity, you aid not only the Police Department, but you make your neighborhood a safer place in which to live and work.

A suspicious activity is an occurrence that is out of place in your neighborhood and we have some examples below. Many times people notice something suspicious but don’t call the Police Department because they assume someone else has called. Don’t assume! Make the call – if the suspicious activity has already been reported, the radio dispatcher will tell you.

If you call the Takoma Park Police Department and you were wrong, that’s okay; you will not be in trouble. Your role as a concerned resident and good neighbor is to report whatever you think is wrong or suspicious.

Be prepared to report suspicious activity. Keep the phone number of the Takoma Park Police Department (301-270-1100) by your phone. Call 9-1-1 it is a life threatening situation or if you need the Police or Fire Department or an ambulance immediately.

Try to remain calm and avoid taking any risks. Your safety, and that of your loved ones, is important. Keep away from a crime scene to preserve evidence.

When you call to report suspicious activity, be calm and ready to provide as many of the following facts as you have available:

  • What happened?
  • Where and when did it occur?
  • Is anyone injured?
  • Description of vehicle(s)
  • License plate number(s)
  • Time and direction of travel of suspect(s)
  • Description of suspect(s), including clothing

While it may seem as though you are being asked a lot of questions, the information is for the safety of the responding officers. The radio dispatcher is attempting to gather as much information about the situation as possible so the officers will have a clearer picture of what they may encounter when they arrive at the scene. Please remain calm and cooperate with the radio dispatcher.

What is Suspicious Activity?

Some of the obvious things to watch for:

  • Person wearing or carrying bloody clothing. Could be a victim or a suspect in the commission of a serious crime.
  • Persons loitering around schools, parks or secluded areas could be sex offenders
  • A scream heard anywhere may mean an assault or a robbery.
  • A person being forced into a car – this could be abduction, domestic violence or a sexual offense.
  • A stranger entering your neighbor’s house or garage – it could be a burglar.
  • A beam from a flashlight in a neighbor’s home, especially if they are away. It could be a burglar.
  • The sound of breaking glass or loud noises – it could mean an accident, burglary or vandalism.
  • Open or broken doors or windows at a home or business. If the owners are absent, this could mean a burglary is in progress or was just completed.
  • Person entering or leaving a place of business after hours could mean a burglary.
  • Anyone peering into parked cars – they may be looking for a car to steal or for valuables inside the car.
  • Anyone removing accessories, such as license plates or gas, from a vehicle.
  • Persons loitering in the neighborhood who do not live there – they could be burglars.

Not So Obvious Things to Watch For:

Not every stranger who comes into your neighborhood is a criminal. Many legitimate people are in our neighborhoods all the time. However, some criminals do take advantage of this fact by assuming the appearance of salespeople, repairmen, utility and city workers.

Protect yourself by checking the identification of all solicitors, repairmen, meter readers or city workers before allowing them into your home. If you are ever unsure, just SAY NO.

So watch out for the following:

  • Anyone going door-to-door with offers of merchandise at low prices – this could be stolen property.
  • Someone going door-to-door, if after a few houses are visited, one or more persons tries to open a door, looks into a window, or goes to a back or side yard. This can be even more suspicious if one person stays at the door while another person goes to the back or side yard.
  • Human and vehicular traffic to and from a certain residence on a daily or regular basis; especially if it happens during late or unusual hours. This could mean drug or vice activities are taking place.
  • Persons taking a short cut through a back yard. They may have broken into someone’s home.
  • Parked vehicles occupied with one or more persons – if it is an unusual hour or you don’t recognize the vehicle – the occupants could be lookouts for a burglar.
  • Vehicles moving slowly and without lights and/or circling your block numerous times. Particularly in the areas of schools, parks and playgrounds. The occupants may be searching for a person to rob or home/business to burglarize, or they may be involved in drug or sex offenses.
  • Vehicles being loaded with valuable items in front of an unattended residence or a business after normal hours.
  • Person running who does not appear to be exercising, especially if carrying anything. They could be fleeing a burglary.
  • Persons casually walking through the neighborhood looking into cars, backyards, etc. They could be looking to burglarize a car or a home.
  • Abandoned vehicles parked on the block. This could be a stolen vehicle.
  • Persons making a quick change of vehicles. These individuals may be attempting to elude the police or they are abandoning a stolen vehicle.