Homeland Security and Emergency Services

How to describe suspicious behavior

Describing Suspicious Behavior

  • WHO did you observe?
  • WHAT did you see? Be specific.
  • WHERE did you see it?
  • WHEN did you see it?
  • WHY is it suspicious?

Giving A Description


  • Sex
  • Race
  • Age (approximate)
  • Height (use 2" blocks ex. 5'8" or 5'10")
  • Weight (approximate, use 10 lb. Blocks ex. 180 lb. or 190 lb.)
  • Build (medium, heavy set, thin, etc.)
  • Hair (color - light, dark, blonde, and length - bald, short cropped, shoulder length)
  • Complexion (light, dark, ruddy, olive)
  • Peculiarities (scar, tattoos, missing limbs)
  • Clothing (from head to toe, style, defects)
  • Weapons (if any)
  • Method of escape (direction, vehicle, etc.)


  • License Plate (most important)
  • Year, make, model & color
  • Body type (2 door, 4 door, van, SUV, etc.)
  • Passengers (number of people in vehicle)
  • Damage or anything unusual (logos, etc.)
  • Markings, or anything unusual.

Ways To Improve Observation Skills

  • Employ good listening skills
  • Do not let personal feelings interfere with the incident
  • Look at the entire situation before making a judgment
  • Watch for non-verbal communication signs
  • Use feedback to obtain and verify information report
  • Observe and report - notify your local police!
  • DO NOT become personally involved