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The City of Portland, Oregon

Community & Civic Life

Promote the common good

Main: 503-823-4519

City/County Info: 503-823-4000

TDD: 503-823-6868

1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland, OR 97204

Describing Suspicious and Criminal Activity to the Police

When you see suspicious or criminal activity in your neighborhood, it is helpful to provide accurate and detailed descriptions of what you are seeing and who is involved. This will help the police assess what is occurring and plan their response. The information also helps the Police Patrol Officers triage calls and can make a difference in the investigation of a crime. Practice identifying the details of people and activities that you observe so that you can use those skills when you need them.

When you contact 9-1-1 or the police non-emergency number, you talk to a call taker who types up the information you provide for a dispatcher who relays that information to the patrol officer. If you can capture the following details, it will improve responses:

Suspicious Activity Details:

  • Focus on suspicious behavior, not suspicious appearance. What is the person doing that is suspicious?
  • When did it start? Is it still going on? If not, when did it stop?
  • Location
  • If the suspect is gone, what direction did she or he travel?

Suspect Description:

  • Sex: Male/ Female/ Unknown
  • Age range
  • Height/ Weight
  • Race/ Ethnicity
  • Facial features: Eye color/ Complexion/ Skin tone/ Other features
  • Hair: Length/ Color/ Facial hair
  • Clothing and shoes: Color/ Type
  • Anything unusual about their gait, body movements or speech
  • Unique features: Tattoos/ Scars/ Piercings/ Glasses/ Other
  • Vehicle Description: Vehicle Type/ Color/ Make/ Model /License Plate/ Distinctive Features

 Where to Call:

  • For an immediate threat to life or property or a crime in progress, call 9-1-1.
  • When you observe suspicious activity that is not an immediate threat, call the police non-emergency number at 503-823-3333.
  • To report crime to the police that has already occurred, call 503-823-3333. At your convenience, you can report crimes that meet the criteria for online reporting at

Let Neighbors Know: 

After you have connected with the police, let neighbors know what happened and that you called the police. Only report the facts of what happened without speculation.

For more information about reporting suspicious activity, see our brochure Reporting Suspicious and Criminal Activity at: