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Report Suspicious Activity, Make the Call
What is terrorism?
While there is no single definition of terrorism, it can be defined generally as the use of violence to pursue a political goal. Terrorism can be classified in many different ways, but ultimately, communities should be on-guard for acts which could result in death or injury.
Terrorism is a crime. Remember it is not a crime to:
- Make harsh or inflammatory comments about the U.S., its government or its people.
- Have a strong set of beliefs that go beyond what is considered respectable discourse. Americans are guaranteed the right of free speech;
Who is a Terrorist?
The term "terrorist" can only apply to someone who has actually committed a crime. Terrorism is a type of blackmail used to threaten or intimidate.
Terrorism might target:
- Government policies
- One or more local communities
- A business or businesses
- One or more racial or ethnic groups
- Members of any specialty group
The goals of terrorism are usually political, social, or religious in nature. Terrorists often truly believe they are pursuing justifiable and righteous goals.
Terrorists may be seeking:
- To influence policy decisions
- Their own homeland or some type of independence
- Downfall of an existing government seen as unresponsive, authoritarian, corrupt or immoral
- Exemption from various laws or rules
What to Look For...
It's important to remember that our constitution protects certain activities, but some activity can be deemed suspicious by a reasonable person and may warrant further investigation. Know what to look for:
Suspicious Packages/Concealed IEDs
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are the main terrorist threat to public places. IEDs are generally small and easily transportable.
- Be alert to bags and packages left unattended
- If you see someone leave a bag, don't touch it, leave the area and alert the authorities
During the planning phase, a terrorist will often conduct surveillance on a possible target. Watch for the following suspicious behaviors:
- Taking photos or videotaping entrances and exits
- Trying to conceal their actions
- Asking inappropriate questions about schedules, the facility or security
- Using binoculars or drawing diagrams
- Be suspicious of items like wire, batteries, altered electronics, chemicals or various unidentifiable substances
- Be alert for individuals purchasing large amounts of chemicals, fertilizers or other suspicious items
- Observe when someone seems to be wearing unusually thick or bulky clothing — such apparel could indicate concealed explosives or weapons. Especially if the clothing is inappropriate for the current season.
- If possible, place a solid physical object and/or some distance between you, bystanders and the possible threat
Unauthorized Entrance into Restricted Areas
- Strangers seen loitering near — or entering — exits or "employees only" areas warrant notifying management and/or police.
Unauthorized or Empty Vehicles
Report vehicles apparently left vacant for long periods, or vehicles parked in prohibited areas
How do I report Suspicious Activity?
If you feel it is an emergency, call 911 immediately.
You can call
or submit a form online at
Where can I get more Information?
The Houston Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Initaitive (RCPI) has information for residents and businesses on preventing terrorism online at iwatchhouston.org. This includes a facilitator guide for businesses, and videos on a range of topics including:
- Run.Hide.Fight®: Surviving an Active Shooter Event
- Spotting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) (Youtube Video)