Situational Awareness: Suspect Behavioral Cues and Indicators

Think of your favorite crime and detective TV show or movie and chances are somewhere in the script the main characters are engaging in situational awareness either in hindsight or foresight using suspect behavioral cues. Most of us who watch these dramas are probably familiar with a few body-language and behavior tip-offs or tells. But, what about the actual behavioral cues that security experts use in conjunction with security technology that enhance their situational awareness? In the security world we often refer to this as looking for indicators.

Looking for indicators in body language is especially critical at locations, venues, or events where there could be any potential for danger towards innocent and unaware parties through acts of violence. Having the best surveillance technology will increase a security operator's ability to spring into action when recognizing indicators before these predicted potential acts of violence can occur. Choosing a surveillance system that enables the right amount of detail from video footage can also help investigators examine pre- or post-attack indicators such as oversized clothing, concealed hands, or abnormal body language.

One of our superior brand partners, Arecont Vision, specialists in cutting edge camera technology, has broken down the indicators by body area as follows:

Potential Indicators Professional Security Operators Watch For on Surveillance Video:

1. Wearing oversized clothing or clothing that is inappropriate for the event or the weather.

2. Concealing hands by keeping them in pockets or hidden for all or a majority of the time.

3. Repeated adjustment of waistband or clothing.

4. Tending to favor one side of the body, one side of the pants, one side of the coat, etc. Typically, the strong side.

5. Turning their body to protect something unseen, which is called "blading" (typically, this is to conceal a weapon.

6. Touching an area of the body for seemingly no particular reason. Often this is done to reposition a weapon or "confirming" the position of a weapon or other hidden/prohibited paraphernalia.

7. Giving extra attention to carried objects.

8. Small bulges near the waist or hip.

9. Having an artificially-looking oversized torso or bulky jacket/vest.

10. Appears to have and/or demonstrates mental discomfort. Is not at ease in the situation when there should be no other cause for concern experienced by other visitors/passerbys/patrons/etc.

11. Muttering to oneself.

12. Demonstrates difficulty in making a decision, which could be shown by pacing, proceeding with an action to move and then stopping repeatedly, hesitation, stress indicators, etc.

13. Repeated entries and exits into an area that is not typical of the flow in the area.

14. May seem lost or unfamiliar with the area.

15. Demonstrates nervousness such as, but not limited to, fidgeting, rubbing face, wringing hands, biting nails, rigid body movements, holding tightly to stationary objects like a pole or handrail, tapping feet or hands, whistling, and evading eye-contact.

16. Has "tunnel vision" or the "1,000 yard stare".

17. Difficulty communicating when having to interact with others.

18. Repeated comments and or repeated prayers.

19. Minimizes the door-to-door distance they have between the area and their vehicle. For instance, parking in handicapped spaces or in fire lanes and entering/exiting quickly.

Now, for a bit of armchair investigating, see if you can use situational awareness cues to spot the pickpocket in this real CCTV footage in a deli:

t was tricky!

Now, in the next video things may be a bit more obvious. See if you can immediately identify the two pickpockets working together in this London boutique:

You may have noticed them right away. Why? Their body language was just "off", wasn't it? Unlike in the first video, these two look like they don't belong in the store and really have little interest in what the store has. They are more interested in the people.

Being able to identify and catch these often subtle body language cues is a very important part of a security operator's job. But, no matter how astute, if the security camera technology is not clear and reliable then situational analysis will be compromised. If you have an older system or need a system that can assist with your situational analysis, please contact us, GenX Security Solutions for a free assessment and quote. We use only the best as our superior brands with the highest trained integrators.

Experience the next generation of interactive security services and solutions with GenX Security.

With custom security integration solutions come custom quotes designed for your needs. Please contact us by clicking here or calling 866-598-4369.


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