Be Aware of Your Surroundings; Report Suspicious Activity

if you see something say something

Terrorist attacks are, of course, horrifying.

We can all play a role in protecting our community.

One key way is to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings – from your neighborhood to a mall, and from public transportation to a public venue such as a stadium. Remember, “If you see something, say (or send) something.”

As this video from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security states:

“It’s not about paranoia or being afraid. It’s about standing up and protecting our communities…one detail at a time because a lot of little details can become a pattern.”


What to Report

Virginia has what is called a “fusion center” that brings together federal, state and local officials to share resources, expertise, and/or information to better identify, detect, prevent and respond to terrorist and criminal activity. The fusion center’s website has a long list of potential suspicious activities to consider reporting such as:

  • Demonstrating unusual interest in facilities, buildings or infrastructures beyond mere casual or professional (e.g., engineers) interest.
  • Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, etc.
  • Suspicious transactions involving large cash payments, deposits, or withdrawals.
  • Acquisition and/or storage of unusual quantities of materials, such as cell phones, pagers, fuel, chemicals, toxic materials and timers.
View Full List


How to Report

screenshot of mobile appIf there’s an ongoing emergency, call or text 9-1-1.

If you see something suspicious, here’s how to report it:

  • Download an app for your phone to easily report something suspicious [iPhone // Android].
  • Call 703-802-2746.
  • Submit information through an online form.
  • You may also call the Fairfax County non-emergency line at 703-691-2131, TTY 703-877-3715.

When reporting suspicious activity, it is helpful to give the most accurate description possible, including:

  • Brief description of the activity.
  • Date, time and location of the activity.
  • Physical identifiers of anyone you observed.
  • Descriptions of vehicles.
  • Information about where people involved in suspicious activities may have gone.

Additional Tips to Consider

  • Move or leave if you feel uncomfortable or if something does not seem right.
  • Do not accept packages from strangers and do not leave luggage unattended.
  • Learn where emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent. Plan how to get out in the event of an emergency.
  • It’s always good to be prepared with an emergency supply kit and communication plans.
  • Most importantly, stay calm, be patient and think before you act. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected.

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