Preventing terrorism, part III: Reporting non-emergencies

By Ted Parker

SDPD Neighborhood Policing Resource Team

This article gives examples of various activities that are considered to be non-emergencies for reporting purposes. These are crimes and suspicious activities are ones in which: (a) there is no serious personal injury, property damage, or property loss; (b) the suspect has left the scene or is not likely to return; and (c) an immediate response is not needed.

Those in the City of San Diego should be reported to the SDPD at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. Those in Del Mar and Solana Beach should be reported to the San Diego County Sheriff at (858) 565-5200.

The following are considered non-emergencies for reporting purposes.

  • Persons or activities that do not appear to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or near a key facility or event because of their demeanor, behavior, language, dress, activity, etc.
  • Multiple sighting of the same suspicious persons, vehicles, or activities at the same location
  • Rental of storage units for suspicious items or activities
  • Deliveries of chemicals directly to self-storage units
  • Unusual deliveries of chemicals to residences or rural addresses
  • Street people not previously seen in the area, i.e., panhandlers, shoe shiners, food or flower vendors, newsagents, street sweepers, etc.

Persons doing the following:

  • Sitting in a parked vehicle for an extended period of time
  • Loitering in public places, e.g., bus stops and train stations
  • Loitering near or wandering around a possible target
  • Carrying on long conversations on pay or cellular phones near a possible target
  • Wearing military or other uniforms that don’t appear to belong on them
  • Observing security measures or personnel, entry points, access controls, and perimeter barriers such as fences or walls, at a possible target
  • Testing or probing security measures, e.g., by driving by a sensitive area, attempting to enter a sensitive area, inquiring about security measures, attempting to smuggle contraband through check points, asking for directions, claiming to be lost, etc.
  • Attempting to enter a key facility without proper ID, prior notification and approval, etc.
  • Being in a key facility without required visible ID
  • Staring or quickly looking away from personnel or vehicles entering or leaving a key facility or parking area
  • Carrying heavy bags or backpacks near a possible target
  • Setting down bags or backpacks near a possible target and then walking away
  • Behaving as if they may be planning a terrorist act, e.g., by mapping routes, timing traffic lights or traffic flow, playing out scenarios, monitoring key facilities or events, etc.
  • Observing activities and movements of police personnel, e.g., in and out of a police station.
  • Possessing or distributing literature that promotes jihad, racist activities, or terrorist/extremist agendas.

Vehicles that:

  • Are parked near a key facility for an unusual period of time
  • Are commonly used for deliveries, e.g., trucks, vans, or U-Hauls, that are parked in locations not usually used for deliveries without prior authorization
  • Are out of place in the environment, e.g., a tractor-trailer parked in a residential neighborhood, and may have out-of-state or temporary plates
  • Are abandoned
  • Are overloaded
  • Are leaking a fluid
  • Have been modified to handle heavier than normal loads, additional storage space, or increased fuel capacity
  • Have excessively darkened or tinted windows, or temporary window coverings to prevent viewing of the vehicle’s interior
  • Show signs of theft, e.g., damaged locks, missing windows, etc.
  • Bear a temporary commercial placard affixed with tape or magnets, or a permanent placard that is unusual, unrecognizable, or has misspelled words
  • Contain batteries, wiring, timers, other power supply or switching components, unmarked packages or unusual items such as PVC pipe, magnets, compressed gas cylinders, fire extinguishers, etc., in the passenger compartment
  • Contain blueprints, maps, sketching materials, or surveillance equipment, e.g., binoculars, video cameras, high-magnification lenses, etc., in the passenger compartment