When to Call the Sheriff's Station

What exactly is "suspicious activity," anyway?

It's not always easy to know whether something we've seen poses a threat to our neighborhood. We may spend time, even too much time, wondering whether a certain activity warrents a call to the Sheriff's Station. Likely, we tend to be conservative in that regard, decide not to call. And that probably doesn't do us or our community, or the Sheriff's Department for that matter, any favors.  

Yes, of course, if we hear screams or a stranger crawls through a neighbor's window, that's a given. But what about more boarderline events?

We asked Altadena's Sheriff Captain John Benedict to weigh-in on a few parameters as to what justifies "suspicious activity."

Just as examples, he offered the following:

If you see --

  • Someone looking into windows or parked cars
  • Someone pulling on car door handles    
  • Property being taken out of closed businesses or houses where no one is at home
  • Vehicles cruising aimlessly
  • Strangers sitting in a car, stopping to talk to kids
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • A sudden change in a neighbor's routine: newspapers piling up; drapes drawn; mailbox overflowing with mail, etc.

Yes, those are broad parameters. But the gist of it is, the Sheriff's Station would rather hear from you than not. Maybe what you report turns out to be entirely innocent, well, better safe than sorry. 

On the other hand, if something appears strange, a little "off," you just might be right. So make the call. Here's the number: 626-798-1131

Laura Monteros August 02, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Oh, yes, I remember when I lived in Pasadena and almost everyday a stranger in a white car parked in front of my house and sat there for a couple hours. I called the PPD, and they said, "How do you know this is suspicious? He could just be eating his lunch." Then the dispatcher added, "Why don't you go out and ask him?" "Because he might have a gun and I have two little kids," I replied. Turns out the guy was a plain-clothes detective doing surveillance. All the PPD unmarked cars at the time were white.


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