Call the Police if You See One of These Outside Your House in Pennsylvania!

In Pennsylvania, a state renowned for its historic significance and picturesque landscapes, residents enjoy a sense of security and community. However, there are certain signs and occurrences that should never be ignored. Recognizing these signs can be crucial for maintaining safety and security. This article aims to educate Pennsylvanians on what to watch out for and when it’s essential to call the police. We’ll delve into the types of suspicious activities, share specific instances from cities across the state, and provide actionable advice on how to handle these situations.

Understanding the Importance of Reporting Suspicious Activities

Why Vigilance Matters

Vigilance is a critical aspect of community safety. When residents are aware of their surroundings and take note of unusual activities, they contribute to the overall security of their neighborhood. Reporting suspicious activities can prevent crimes, protect property, and even save lives. In Pennsylvania, law enforcement agencies rely heavily on the public’s cooperation to maintain order and safety.

The Role of Community in Safety

Communities that actively engage in monitoring and reporting suspicious activities tend to experience lower crime rates. This collective effort creates a deterrent effect, making it harder for criminals to operate. By fostering a culture of vigilance, Pennsylvanians can ensure their neighborhoods remain safe and secure.

Common Suspicious Activities to Watch Out For

Unfamiliar Vehicles Lingering

One of the most common signs of potential criminal activity is the presence of unfamiliar vehicles lingering in the area. These vehicles may be used by criminals to scout potential targets or to carry out illegal activities. Residents should be alert to:

  • Vehicles parked for extended periods without any clear reason.
  • Cars that repeatedly drive through the neighborhood at odd hours.
  • Vehicles with covered or missing license plates.
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Individuals Acting Suspiciously

Another red flag is individuals behaving suspiciously. This can include:

  • Strangers loitering around homes or businesses.
  • People looking into cars or houses.
  • Individuals trying door handles or windows.

Unusual Noises or Disturbances

Unusual noises or disturbances, especially at odd hours, can also indicate criminal activities. These might include:

  • Breaking glass or forced entry sounds.
  • Loud arguing or fighting.
  • Frequent loud noises from vacant properties.

Case Studies from Pennsylvania Cities

Philadelphia: Vehicle-Related Crimes

Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, has seen a rise in vehicle-related crimes. Residents have reported seeing unfamiliar cars parked for long periods, often with individuals inside who seem to be watching the area. In some cases, these vehicles were found to be stolen or used in other crimes. The Philadelphia Police Department urges residents to report any suspicious vehicles immediately.

Pittsburgh: Unusual Activities in Residential Areas

In Pittsburgh, there has been an uptick in reports of unusual activities in residential areas. Residents in neighborhoods like Shadyside and Squirrel Hill have reported strangers knocking on doors late at night, claiming to be lost or in need of help. These incidents are often attempts to assess the vulnerability of the home. Pittsburgh residents are advised to be cautious and report such incidents.

Allentown: Increase in Break-Ins and Theft

Allentown has experienced a significant increase in break-ins and thefts in recent years. Reports indicate that criminals often scout neighborhoods during the day, posing as utility workers or delivery personnel. Residents should verify the identity of anyone claiming to be from a service company and report suspicious behavior to the Allentown Police Department.

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Erie: Drug-Related Activities

Erie, a city in northwestern Pennsylvania, has been grappling with drug-related activities. Residents have reported seeing unfamiliar individuals loitering around certain properties and increased traffic at odd hours. These properties are often used as drug houses. The Erie Police Department encourages residents to report any such activities, as early intervention can prevent further criminal behavior.

What to Do If You See Something Suspicious

Steps to Take Immediately

If you observe suspicious activities, it is essential to act promptly but safely:

  1. Do Not Confront the Suspect: Your safety is paramount. Avoid direct confrontation with any suspicious individuals.
  2. Document the Incident: Take note of important details, such as the description of individuals, vehicles, and the exact location and time of the incident.
  3. Notify Neighbors: Informing your neighbors can help ensure that everyone is on high alert.

How to Document the Incident

Proper documentation can be crucial for law enforcement:

  • Description of Individuals: Note physical characteristics, clothing, and any distinguishing features.
  • Vehicle Details: Record the make, model, color, and license plate number of any suspicious vehicles.
  • Time and Location: Specify the exact time and location of the suspicious activity.

Contacting the Authorities

When contacting the authorities:

  • Call 911 for Immediate Threats: If the situation poses an immediate threat to life or property, call 911.
  • Non-Emergency Numbers: For non-urgent situations, use the local police department’s non-emergency number.
  • Online Reporting: Some police departments offer online reporting for non-emergency incidents.

Community Programs and Resources

Neighborhood Watch Programs

Neighborhood watch programs are a valuable resource for maintaining community safety. These programs encourage residents to work together, share information, and report suspicious activities. In Pennsylvania, many communities have established neighborhood watch groups that collaborate with local law enforcement.

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Local Law Enforcement Resources

Local law enforcement agencies provide various resources to help residents stay informed and safe:

  • Crime Maps: Many police departments offer online crime maps that show recent incidents in the area.
  • Community Meetings: Attending community meetings with local law enforcement can provide valuable information and allow residents to voice their concerns.
  • Safety Workshops: Police departments often conduct workshops on topics like home security and personal safety.

How to Get Involved

Getting involved in community safety initiatives can make a significant difference:

  • Join or Start a Neighborhood Watch: If your area does not have a neighborhood watch program, consider starting one.
  • Stay Informed: Subscribe to local news and law enforcement updates.
  • Volunteer: Many police departments have volunteer programs that allow residents to assist with various activities.


Staying vigilant and reporting suspicious activities are crucial steps in ensuring the safety and security of Pennsylvania’s communities. By understanding what to watch out for, taking appropriate action, and leveraging community resources, residents can make a significant impact in preventing crime and protecting their neighborhoods. Remember, if you see something, say something—your vigilance could make all the difference.

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MBS Staff
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