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September 30, 2022

Detecting Suspicious Behavior

The ability to spot suspicious behaviors before they result in harmful actions can make all the difference when it comes to protection.


The ability to spot suspicious behaviors before they result in harmful actions can make all the difference when it comes to protection. Although it may sound straightforward, keeping an eye out for the subtle cues that could alert you to danger is no easy task. While this ability is by no means the perfect solution for preventing crimes, it can be a major deterrent for would-be criminals. If your location develops a reputation for competent, alert security, you are much less likely to become a target. Let’s take a closer look at hostile detection and the ways you can implement it.

What Is Behavioral Detection?

At its core, behavioral detection is a skill that combines everyday security tasks with an added layer of observation to locate and detect would be criminals. In order to maintain this skill, it must be used consistently and updated whenever necessary. Within the security industry detection falls under what is known as the “3DS of disruption.” These three markers include Denying someone’s ability to gain information that could be used against you, Detecting behaviors that may indicate someone is attempting to harm you, and Deterring any criminal acts. Deterrence and denial cannot be achieved without understanding how to properly identify suspicious behaviors.

While truly honed behavioral detection skills only come from years of practice and consistent use as a security professional, these skills can also be taught as part of a security culture within your organization. Regular employees can be informed on what odd behaviors may look like in the workplace and be taught how to report them effectively.

How To Spot Suspicious Behavior

Before any training, you may rely on your common sense to help you identify those who are acting unusual. For instance, if someone appears agitated, fearful, or anxious and in otherwise calm setting, this could trigger alarm bells in your mind. The same could be said for individuals who seemingly don't want to be noticed, sticking to walls shadows, and covering up with excessive clothing. While these are traditional markers of suspicious behavior, they are not the only ones. It is important to remember that a criminal may not display any of these behaviors in the first place. Understanding the nuances of behavioral cues can help prevent false alarms and increase success rates.

Another reason why training cannot be overstated is that each of us hold personal biases. Depending on our backgrounds, we may have different ideas of what a criminal looks and acts like. These biases can and will be used against you if you are not careful.

In short, rather than looking for specific behaviors or other markers too tell you that someone is inherently suspicious, look instead for things that seem out of place in the specific setting and investigate. Understanding what is normal for your environment is key. Once something unusual is spotted ensure that your team has a plan to investigate and reach a conclusion quickly.

Every location and team are going to have a unique set of things necessary to help them identify suspicious behavior at work. Be prepared with skills by taking an active shooter prevention training program and work with your team to establish a baseline as well as communication when something seems off. Practice your procedures consistently and encourage staff to report when necessary.

Together, you can begin to easily identify suspicious behaviors before they get out of hand.

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