Understanding Suspicious Activity

Understanding Suspicious Activity

Suspicious activity can sometimes be hard to identify. Is the person you don’t recognize a new employee or a visiting client? Is the person behaving oddly just having a bad day? Is the person loitering in the lobby just waiting to meet someone for lunch? When someone sees something that looks strange or concerning, they may ignore it because they aren’t certain if it presents a risk or they don’t want to cause any trouble. 

So, what is suspicious activity and how can we feel comfortable identifying and reporting it? Here, we present an overview of suspicious activity, provide relevant examples, and offer guidance on how to address it in your organization.

Suspicious Activity Overview

Suspicious activity is any behavior or activity outside of the norm that may indicate a future crime or security incident. Unaddressed suspicious activity can lead to mental health crises, workplace violence, property or financial theft, or even active assailant incidents.

Within an organization, employees know what is normal, when someone might need help, and when something is out of place and may pose a risk. This is why it’s critical for employers to educate their organizations about identifying and reporting suspicious activity and incidents so that they can be addressed. This is the premise of the United States Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign.

The first step to addressing suspicious activity is ensuring that employees understand how to identify it. Examples of suspicious behavior by individuals or employees in and around the workplace include the following:

  • Loitering in the lobby or other office spaces
  • Trying to gain access to the building
  • Wearing unseasonal attire (ex: a puffy winter jacket in the summer)
  • Overhearing a threatening or concerning conversation
  • Testing locked doors and windows or trying to access secure spaces
  • Abandoning bags or vehicles
  • Peering into car or building windows
  • Working odd hours or taking prolonged absences from work
  • Asking for unneeded information

Once employees understand how to identify suspicious behaviors, the next step is reporting them so that they can be addressed.

Identifying Suspicious Activity

In order to identify suspicious activity, organizations need to 1) educate their workforce on suspicious behavior and 2) develop and deploy a reliable, intuitive reporting process. Educating your workforce can be done through informative resources, such as a document with examples of suspicious behavior, and/or during onboarding or recurrent training.

Once an employee has identified suspicious activity or another concerning behavior or incident, it is crucial that they have an easy means of reporting their thoughts without fear of professional repercussions. Although many organizations allow employees to report concerns by contacting security or HR personnel, many employees find these processes to be clunky or unreliable and would prefer a more intuitive, anonymous reporting tool.

One way to offer reliable reporting is through a mobile risk intelligence communications platform that offers instant tip submissions, contact with security, and additional resources. These mobile reporting options are often more effective for gathering actionable community-sourced risk intelligence about suspicious activity and more.

Addressing Suspicious Activity

After your organization receives a report of suspicious or concerning behavior, it’s important to address the report in a timely manner. This may include responding to the employee report and/or requesting further information; deploying your organization’s security team to investigate; or involving local law enforcement.

Rapid response not only prevents incident escalation, but indicates that employee reports are valuable.

Depending on the situation, it may be beneficial to send a broadcast message alerting your workforce to the suspicious activity and advising them to remain vigilant and to report similar concerns. These messages may include information about the report (ex: the location and type of suspicious behavior) and may also direct employees to organizational resources about suspicious behavior and reporting processes. If you use an emergency notification system, these messages may be segmented based on customized employee groups or geographic location.

Addressing suspicious activity is an important component of protecting your workforce (especially lone workers), your organization, and your business success.

Using Risk Management Platforms to Address Suspicious Activity

Mobile risk intelligence communications platforms such as Vector LiveSafe are typically built to facilitate organizational safety and incident response. Vector LiveSafe, in particular, can help organizations identify and address suspicious activity and other incidents with a variety of features, such as:

  • Anonymous reporting. Employees can submit reports of suspicious activity in and around the workplace, anonymously if desired. Once a report is submitted, they can engage in real-time, two-way conversations with security.
  • Broadcast messages. When you need to enlist the help of your community to investigate suspicious activity, send a Broadcast message with basic information.
  • Group-specific mass notifications. If suspicious activity concerns only a specific part of your workplace, send a Broadcast message to a specific group of employees (ex: one floor of your office building).
  • Virtual companion. If there is suspicious behavior in or around the workplace, your employees can allow friends or family to virtually accompany them while they commute to or from work, whether on foot or while driving.
  • Customizable resources. Upload or link general or organization- specific information about suspicious activity scenarios and response strategies to the “Resources” section of the app.

LiveSafe makes it easy to report suspicious activity or other safety and security incidents. Empower yourself to share safety information and feel confident that LiveSafe will get your concern to the right people who can respond appropriately. To learn more about how Vector LiveSafe can protect your workforce and facilitate incident prevention, download the LiveSafe Feature Flyer or request a demo.


Alexandra Brunjes has a B.S. in Neurobiology from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with minors in Creative Writing and French. She is a published journalist and experienced health and science writer. Her expertise includes risk intelligence, healthcare and neuroscience, and technology.

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