How to Identify Suspicious Characters in a Crowd

How to Identify Suspicious Characters in a Crowd

Whether guilty-minded people subconsciously want to be discovered or the anxiety just makes them act awkwardly, the telltale signs of evil-doers are there if you know what to look for. People that work crowd control and security seem to develop an instinct for trouble-makers over time. Take night club bouncers for example. Part of that New York style of selecting people to enter from a line has to do with not letting in those individuals security finds a tad too sketchy. Some night club bouncers make a Top 10 list of potential problem people as they walk in the door. Experience teaches them to spot warning signs.
That connection between a criminal mindset and actions has emerged as part of the science of Profiling and Behavior Analysis in law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. In terms of picking out suspicious characters and potential threats, here are some things the average person can be cognizant of in these troubled times.

Moving Against the Grain

Crowds tend to have a natural flow to them. People are moving toward or away from things like entertainment, bathrooms, and food and beverage stations. They tend to congregate in friendly groups. When someone contemplates violence, they take themselves out of the natural movement of a crowd. In essence, they become a lone wolf and can be identified by a stern or unhappy look on their face. They tend to come to an awkward standstill and free their hands of encumbrances just before acting.
You may also notice a few people that appear to be moving in concert, but not in a way that fits the event. The Boston Marathon Bombers are good examples. They moved through the crowd, but were oblivious to the race aspects or festivities. In hindsight, they appeared slightly out of place.
Other things to be aware of are non-employees congregating near the rear of structures, closing a tight human circle to conceal something, huddling together or loitering. They might just have a bag of weed. But they might also have automatic weapons.

The Signs of Discomfort

There are two opposite indicators about the cognitive behavior of an evil-doer. Either they become nervous and jerky or they go silent. The nervous types are fairly easy to pick out of a crowd. They’re moving quickly, demonstrating a lot of head turning, twitching, shuffling and weird flailing when talking. The other side of the spectrum are those that are consumed by the planned bad deed and suppress that stress and anxiety. Look for tense, rigid body language. The big giveaway can be asking them two questions. The mental stress they’re under tends to limit their ability to make logical and thoughtful remarks. When the answers don’t quite make sense, that’s a clear warning sign.

What Are You Hiding?

Bulky clothing and particularly trench coats are inherent dangers. It’s difficult to conclude a baggy coat in the dead of winter is anything more than a smart way of staying warm. But, when the clothing doesn’t quite fit the weather, make a remark to security or step away. Suicide bombers are known to wear explosive vests and gunman exploit long jackets. Another warning sign is when someone favors one side or the other of that oversized clothing. Weapons have weight and need to be managed.
The majority of odd behavior turns out to be inconsequential. But, in these dangerous times, if the hair stands up on the back of your neck, the only smart thing to do is follow your instincts.