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  1. If You See Something, Say Something®
  2. Recognize Suspicious Activity

Recognize Suspicious Activity

What is Suspicious Activity?

Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that may indicate pre-operational planning associated with terrorism or terrorism-related crime. With the help of the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified common signs of terrorism-related suspicious activity. Some activities could be innocent, but trained law enforcement officials can determine whether the behavior warrants further action.

Remember: Factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity are not suspicious. A cornerstone of the DHS mission is ensuring that people’s civil rights and civil liberties are not diminished by our security efforts, activities, and programs. As such, the DHS “If You See Something, Say Something®” campaign encourages the public to report only suspicious behavior and situations (e.g., someone breaking into a restricted area), rather than one’s appearance, to authorities.

Whether you are on your way to work, shopping at a store, or traveling on vacation, remember: We all play a role in keeping our communities safe. Remember to stay alert and say something when you see something suspicious. The below activities should only be reported if they are conducted in a manner that would arouse suspicion of terrorism.

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  • Expressed or Implied Threat

    Expressed or Implied Threat

    Communicating a spoken or written threat to commit a crime that could harm or kill people or damage a facility, infrastructure, or secured site.

  • Observation / Surveillance

    Observation/Surveillance icon

    A prolonged or unusual interest in facilities, buildings, or infrastructure beyond casual or professional interest.

  • Photography

    Photography icon

    Taking pictures or videos of persons, facilities, buildings, or infrastructure in a covert manner, such as photos or video of security related equipment or personnel, infrequently used access points, or structure of a building.

  • Theft / Loss / Diversion


    Stealing or diverting items—such as equipment, uniforms, or badges—that belong to a facility or secured site.

  • Testing or Probing of Security

    Testing or Probing of Security

    Challenging or testing a facility's security or IT systems to assess the strength or weakness of the target.

  • Aviation Activity

    Aviation Activity

    Operating or interfering with the operation of an aircraft that poses a threat of harm to people and property.

  • Breach / Attempted Intrusion

    Breach/Attempted Intrusion

    Unauthorized people trying to enter a restricted area or impersonating authorized personnel.

  • Misrepresentation


    Presenting false information or misusing documents to conceal possible illegal activity.

  • Eliciting Information

    Eliciting Information

    Questioning personnel beyond mere curiosity about an event, facility, or operations.

  • Acquisition of Expertise

    Acquisition of Expertise

    Gaining skills or knowledge on a specific topic, such as facility security, military tactics, or flying an aircraft.

  • Cyberattack


    Disrupting or compromising an organization’s information technology systems.

  • Recruiting / Financing


    Funding suspicious or criminal activity or recruiting people to participate in criminal or terrorist activity.

  • Sabotage / Tampering / Vandalism

    Sabotage/Tampering /Vandalism

    Damaging or destroying part of a facility, infrastructure, or secured site.

  • Materials Acquisition / Storage

    Materials Acquisition/Storage

    Acquisition and/or storage of unusual materials such as cell phones, radio controllers, or toxic materials.

  • Weapons Collection / Storage

    Weapons Collection/Storage

    Collection or discovery of unusual amounts of weapons including explosives, chemicals, or other destructive materials.

  • Sector-Specific Incident

    Sector-Specific Incident

    Actions which raise concern to specific sectors (e.g., power plant) with regard to their personnel, facilities, systems, or functions.

Public safety is everyone's responsibility. If you see suspicious activity, report it to local law enforcement or a person of authority. Many states have designated a unique “tip line” to collect reports of terrorism-related suspicious activity. Visit our Report Suspicious Activity page and use the campaign’s interactive map to determine the appropriate phone number for your location.

Report a Tip


Do not report suspicious activity to the Department of Homeland Security. Instead, notify local law enforcement.

Last Updated: 03/27/2024
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