Students, faculty, staff and visitors can help protect our community by learning to recognize and report suspicious activity. Prompt and detailed reporting can help prevent crimes or terrorist attacks.
Suspicious behavior or activity can be any action that is out of place and does not fit into the usual day-to-day activity of our campus community. For example, you see someone looking into multiple vehicles or homes or testing to see if they are unlocked. Or perhaps you are worried about how your roommate has been acting differently or concerned about the behavior of a co-worker.
If you witness behavior that concerns you, trust your instincts and call 911 or DPSS at (734) 763-1131 or report your concern online.
According to the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 87% of suspicious behaviors witnessed by college students go unreported.
Don’t hesitate. Even if you are unsure as to what is going on, the best thing to do is to let officers investigate. You may help prevent violence or theft. When the police catch someone in the act of breaking into a home or stealing something, it is not unusual for that person to be responsible for multiple other crimes. You shouldn’t worry about using up an officer’s time. The additional information will give police and security important data to identify trends and make decisions about when and where to deploy patrols.
It’s important to remember, however, that it is a person’s behavior, not their race, religion or national origin, that may be suspicious.
Suspicious activities or behaviors may include, but are not limited to:
- Wandering around campus areas attempting to open multiple doors
- Seeming nervous and looking over their shoulders
- Entering restricted areas when not authorized or following immediately behind others into card-access areas while the door is open
- Claiming to represent a utility company, but not wearing a uniform, does not produce identification upon request or does not have a company logo vehicle
- Carrying property at an unusual hour or location, especially if they are attempting to hide the item
- Using binoculars or other devices to peer into apartment and home windows
- Driving a vehicle slowly and aimlessly around campus
- Sitting in a vehicle for extended periods of time or conducting transactions from a vehicle
- Abruptly changing behavior when seen
- Dressing inappropriately for the weather or occasion (having a coat on when the temperature is warm, etc.)
- Leaving packages, bags or other items behind
- Exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms
- Unusual noises like screaming, yelling, gunshots or glass breaking
- Individuals in a heated argument, yelling or cursing at each other
If you witness concerning or suspicious behavior:
- Call 911 or contact DPSS at (734) 763-1131 with the following
- Name and location
- What you see
- Description of person(s) involved
- Location of person(s) involved
- Keep a safe distance from the person until law enforcement arrives. Keep an eye on the person only if it is safe to do so.
- Get a good description of the suspicious person if personal safety allows. Note their height, weight, sex, complexion, approximate age, clothing, method and direction of travel, and name if known. This provides vital information to investigating police officers.
- If the person attempts to leave the scene in a vehicle, bicycle, etc., do not attempt to detain them—but try to make note of the vehicle’s make and model, license number, color and any outstanding characteristics.
- Call 911 or contact DPSS at (734) 763-1131 with the following information:
Behaviors do not have to violate the law or U-M policy to be of concern. If you know someone who is exhibiting a pattern of concerning behavior, call 911 or DPSS at (734) 763-1131 or report your concern online.
- Having a preoccupation with high-profile, violent incidents
- Responding disproportionately to a given situation
- Lacking concern for the safety or well-being of others
- Having a romantic obsession, usually unrequited
- Having an obsessive fondness or fascination with firearms
- Refusing to accept personal responsibility for one’s own actions—usually blaming others for one’s own mistakes
- Holding grudges
- Sharply declining in job or academic performance, including frequent absences
- Personality, mood or behavior changes
- Cutting social ties
- Crying excessively with little cause
- Allowing personal grooming habits to decline
- Feeling severely stressed (academic, job, financial, family or relationship problems)
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Failing to recognize appropriate boundaries in the classroom or at work
- Intimidating, belligerent or defiant behavior
- Confrontational, angry, unpredictable or agitated behavior
- Reckless, antisocial or violent behavior, including towards people or animals
- Making direct or indirect threats about harming or killing one’s self or others
For more information, visit our reporting page regarding violent or threatening behavior.
The Michigan State Police – Homeland Security has identified seven signs of terrorism:
- Surveillance: Someone recording or monitoring activities. This may include the use of cameras (either still or video), note taking, drawing diagrams, annotating on maps, or using binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices.
- Elicitation: People or organizations attempting to gain information about security operations, capabilities or people. Elicitation attempts may be made by mail, fax, telephone or in person.
- Tests of security: Any attempt to measure reaction times to security breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses.
- Acquiring supplies: Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, etc. Also includes acquiring military, police or security uniforms, decals, flight manuals, maps or badges (or the equipment to manufacture such items) or other controlled items.
- Suspicious persons out of place: People who don’t seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, campus or anywhere else.
- Dry run/Trial run: Putting people into position and moving them around according to their plan without actually committing the terrorist act. This especially is true when planning a kidnapping, but it also can pertain to bombings. An element of this activity also could include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow of traffic.
- Deploying assets: People and supplies getting into position to commit the act. This is a person’s last chance to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs.