Reporting Crime
October 3, 2023
Crime Prevention
What is suspicious behaviour and when to report it

What is suspicious behaviour and when to report it

If you see someone behaving in a way that doesn’t look or feel right, and you think it’s likely they might commit a crime, it’s always best to report it.

“Suspicious behaviour” is a fairly broad term for a whole range of activities that can seem odd and out of place and could be a sign of a crime. Fortunately, there is often a simple explanation for why someone is behaving as they are. 

However, reporting something that just doesn’t feel right can prevent serious crime and improve the safety of your community. But sometimes it can be confusing to know what to report and who to report to.

What is suspicious behaviour?

Behaviour is suspicious, not people. It’s when someone is doing something that’s seems unusual and out of place from what’s normal day-to-day activity.

Just because someone you don’t know, or someone from a different ethnic background or religion to you, is walking down your street or sitting in a car, doesn’t mean they’re suspicious.

But if they are looking into multiple car windows and trying door handles or going through people’s mailboxes or trying to enter your neighbour’s house when you know they’re not home – that’s suspicious.

Examples of suspicious behaviour

Suspicious behaviour can be things like:

  • Someone going door to door in an office building trying handles.
  • A strange car cruising the same block or street repeatedly, without a clear purpose. 
  • A person carrying property such as laptops, electronic devices, office equipment or tools at an unusual time or location, especially if they are trying to hide the item.
  • A stranger looking into multiple vehicles or homes or testing to see if they are unlocked.
  • Using binoculars or cameras or other devices to look into apartment or home windows.
  • A person abruptly changing their behaviour when seen.
  • Transactions being conducted in or at a vehicle.
  • High volunmes of traffic going into and out of a home on a daily basis.
  • A strange person looking in mailboxes or removing mail from letterboxes in your street.
  • One or more people sitting in a parked car for an extra-long period of time, looking around and checking out the area.
  • Someone being forced into a vehicle.
  • People loitering around a building site and checking it out when workers and tradies have left.
  • People removing building materials or other goods from a building site outside construction times.
  • Dressing inappropriately for the weather (eg: having a coat or hoodie on, when the weather is hot).
  • Strange noises such as gunshots, yelling, alarms, screaming or fighting.
  • Someone loitering around schools or playgrounds.
  • Strangers climbing fences or walking into a neighbour’s property without a clear reason.
  • People removing number plates or loading high value items into vehicles from a home.
  • One or more people sitting in a parked car for an extra-long period of time, looking around and checking out the area.

What if it's nothing?

People may see this sort of behaviour but still not do anything about it. Why?

  • They think they may be wasting police time — the “it’s probably nothing” response. 
  • They don’t know who they should report it to.
  • They’re not sure whether the odd behaviour is actually serious enough to call the police.

But with Victoria’s population at 6.7 million, and having just 16,700 police officers, it is vital that we be the extra eyes and ears to help police keep us safe.

Keep in mind that any information, no matter how small, can be important. It could be the missing piece that police need to prevent a crime. 

And, if it amounts to nothing, there’s not enough information for action to be taken, there are no clear links to a crime or more information is needed to implicate the person, your report will be kept on file. 

Our advice is to trust your gut. If something just doesn’t look or feel right, or you think a crime is happening or about to happen, then report it. 

Reporting suspicious behaviour

It can be tricky knowing who to report suspicious behaviour to. Is it serious enough to contact police? If so, do you go to your local station, call Triple Zero (000) or the Police Assistance Line. Maybe a report for Crime Stoppers. Or depending on your location would you be best to report to a security guard?  

If you see something “odd” the authority that you report to will depend on your location and what you have seen, but the basic rule of thumb is:

  • If you are seeing it now and it’s happening now, or you think it’s urgent – call Triple Zero (000).
  • If it’s something you’ve seen earlier in the day, there’s no immediate danger or there’s no need for police to come with lights and sirens blaring – call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or make an online report.
  • If you have information a crime or suspicious activity and want to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential online report.
  • For something you believe could be a potential terrorism threat, you can report anonymously to the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400, via email at or via text message to 0429 771 822 

What to report

To make your report as valuable as possible try to take in as much information as you can. A quick and accurate description of events, vehicles, and people involved can make all the difference in catching a potential criminal. 

Here are some useful details to record:

  • Time and date
  • Location
  • What happened
  • Direction of travel
  • Description of suspicious person, including gender, build, hair colour, skin colour, complexion, height. Take note of clothing, shoes, jewellery, piercings, tattoos, scars, facial hair, speech and glasses. 
  • Description of suspicious vehicle, including make, model, type (a sedan, hatchback, 4WD, ute, van, motorbike), colour and registration number, if possible. Take note of any special features such as damage, rust, stickers, roof racks, bullbars, towbars, logos, modifications, or different coloured panels. 

If a vehicle is involved, it’s not enough to take note of the number plate as there’s a good chance, if there is a crime occurring or about to occur, the plates have been stolen.

And remember, only take photos or video if you can do it safely.

Get Police Assistance

For all emergencies and immediate Police assistance
Call: 000
To report non-urgent crimes or events 24 hours a day
Call: 131 444
To report information about a crime contact Crime Stoppers on
1800 333 000

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Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.