Suspicious Activity

Suspicious Person

Suspicious behavior is sometimes difficult to define, especially in New York City and other major cities, but it is one of those things that most people “know when they see it.” It is something that is out of place, not quite right, or just makes you feel ‘weird’. A suspicious person could be exhibiting unusual behavior, or be in an area or doing something that is not normal.

If you see somebody acting suspiciously:

  • Do not provide him/her access to any secure area.
  • Do not physically confront the person.
  • In NYC, call Public Safety at 212-998-2222.
  • If you see any criminal activity, call 911 (in the US). See this list for 911-eqiuvalents worldwide.
  • Take note of what the person is wearing and what he/she looks like.
  • If the person attempts to flee the area via an exit, allow him/her to leave. Note the direction in which they fled and report it to Public Safety.

Bomb Threat

While most threats are in fact hoaxes, they should all be treated as a real. The majority of bomb threats are received by telephone. This places great importance on the first and possibly the only contact that will be had with the person calling in the threat. It is imperative that the person receiving the call obtain as much information as possible.

If you receive a bomb threat by telephone:

  • Remain calm and keep the caller on the line as long as possible. Ask the caller to repeat the message.
  • Write down the phone number the call is coming from if you have caller ID.
  • Get as much detail as you can about the proposed threat.
  • Pay particular attention to background noises such as motors running, music, and any other noises, which may give a clue to the location of the caller.
  • Listen closely to the voice (male or female, young or old), voice quality (calm or excited), accents and speech impediments.
  • If the caller does not indicate the time or location of the bomb, ask for this information.
  • Immediately after the call, or during it, if possible, notify Public Safety and follow their instructions.

Additional resources: The US Department of Homeland Security: click here

Suspicious Package

The likelihood of receiving a life threatening package is remote. Unfortunately, though, a small number of life threatening packages have been discovered over the years, and they can result in death, injury and/or destruction of property. However, suspicious packages have typically exhibited some unique characteristics that make them stand out.

Signs that a package or mail may be suspicious:

  • You don’t recognize the sender or there is no return address
  • Special markings such as foreign mail, air mail, and "special delivery"
  • Restrictive markings such as “CONFIDENTIAL” or “PERSONAL”
  • Excessive postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed address
  • Incorrect titles
  • Misspellings of common words
  • Excessive weight
  • Rigid, lopsided, or uneven envelopes
  • Excessive tape or string

If you receive mail, or see an object that you find suspicious:

  • Do not touch or disturb the object.
  • Leave the object where it is.
  • Alert others in the area.
  • Notify Public Safety at (212) 998-2222.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • If you fear that you may have already been exposed to a hazardous material, remove yourself from the scene to a private area and call for 911. Medical personnel will come to you.
  • Create a list of persons in the room where the package was received.
  • For emergency information at other sites around NYU’s global network, contact the site director.

Additional resources:

The United State Postal Service (USPS): click here

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): click here

Centers for Disease Control (CDC): click here