Report What You Find to be Unusual!                    

First, call the National Response Center at 877-24WATCH. For immediate danger to life or property, call 911, or call the U. S. Coast Guard on Marine Channel 16.

Never approach someone you fear may be about to commit a crime. Make some notes, such as the person's appearance, clothing, vehicle license plate, and the type of boat, vehicle or aircraft involved. Take a picture if you can, but keep your distance if the situation seems hostile.

Provide Details:

Be specific with details whenever you report something amiss to authorities. Generalized descriptions and concerns don't provide sufficient information and may not carry the appropriate sense of urgency.

Details Carry Weight:

For Example: "I'm at the Safe Haven Marina and just saw [something dangerous] loaded from a White SUV into a turquoise Boston Whaler with the registration number of CF1234YZ. I can't read the SUV's plate number, but I think it's an out-of-state plate. The boat operator seems to be intimidated by his passengers, and the passengers seem to be trying to keep out of sight. I think something bad is about to happen." Pay attention to height, weight, gender, clothing, or other identifiable traits of the people engaged in suspicious activity -- you may be asked for this type of information.

How to Make a Proper Description of a Person, Boat or Vehicle

Never use race or religion as an indicator of suspicious activity. Always rely on the idea that what you are observing is like a puzzle. If your instincts suspect suspicious activity, and you have observed a person's/group's actions that you can report to back up your instincts and feelings, then you can report your observations using the CYMBALS method described below.

All reports should contain the 5 Ws and an H, which means you should be able to articulate a majority of the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How aspects of what's going on. This will be the line of questioning you can expect from law enforcement when submitting a report. If you do not have a majority of these questions covered, then articulate exactly what makes you feel suspicious of a person, group, or situation when reporting.


People Boats Vehicles
  • Color (hair, eyes, skin)
  • Year (of birth, approximate age)
  • Make (race, ethnicity)
  • Body (height, weight, build, etc)
  • Attire (clothing, description, dress, etc)
  • Looks (hair, scars, tattoos, facial hair, etc)
  • Sex (male, female)
  • Color (paint, markings, etc)
  • Year (of manufacture, approximate age)
  • Make (make and model of boat)
  • Body (length, type: cruiser, runabout, PWC, etc)
  • Accessories (name, antennas, flag, inboard/outboard)
  • License / registration number
  • State of registration
  • Color (pain, markings, etc)
  • Year (of manufacture, approximate age)
  • Make (make and model of vehicle)
  • Body (sedan, truck, SUV, 4/2 door, etc)
  • Any thing else (dents, stickers, rims, etc)
  • License plate number
  • State of registration

To report suspicious activity: Call the National Response Center at 1-877-24WATCH
If there is immediate danger to life or property, call 911 or the U.S. Coast Guard on Channel 16

U.S. Coast Guard U.S. Department of Homeland Security

This page was last reviewed / modified June 26, 2017