Crisis Actors

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Crisis Actors Guide to Suspicious Behavior - Part 2

Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Tattoo Shops

The activities outlined here may give you ideas as an actor for suspicious behavior, dialog, and action in training exercises.

These activities have been compiled from a review of terrorist events over several years.

They are by no means all-inclusive for Crisis Actors scenarios.

For tattoo shops, suspicious customers may be people who:

  • Provide identification that is inconsistent or suspect or demand identity “privacy”
  • Insist on paying with cash or use credit card(s) in different name(s)
  • Significantly alter appearance from visit to visit (shaving beard, changing hair color, style of dress, etc)
  • Have missing hand/fingers, chemical burns, strange odors or bright colored stains on clothing
  • Make racist or extreme religious statements coupled with comments that are violent or appear to condone violence
  • Make suspicious comments regarding anti-US, radical theology, vague or cryptic warnings that suggest or appear to endorse the use of violence in support of a cause
  • Make repeated returns with multiple individuals requesting identical tattoos
  • Request a tattoo and state intent is to target specific group or individual
  • Inquire about unusual methods of tattooing or placement of tattoos which could allow the concealment of extremist symbols

A vigilant tattoo shop will:

  • Require valid ID from all new customers.
  • Keep records of purchases.
  • Talk to customers, ask questions, and listen to and observe their responses.
  • Watch for people and actions that are out of place.
  • Make note of suspicious statements, people, and/or vehicles.
  • If something seems wrong, notify law enforcement authorities.
  • Not jeopardize their safety or the safety of others.
  • Report to the Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC - - 888-705-JRIC).
  • Mention "Tripwire" in the call.

The tattoo shop must remember that just because someone’s speech, actions, beliefs, appearance, or way of life is different it does not mean that he or she is suspicious.

Some of the activities, taken individually, could be innocent and must be examined by law enforcement professionals in a larger context to determine whether there is a basis to investigate.

The collection of this information was supported by Grant Number 2007-MU-BX-K002, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Each indictor listed above, is by itself, lawful conduct or behavior and may also constitute the exercise of rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. In addition, there may be a wholly innocent explanation for conduct or behavior that appears suspicious in nature. For this reason, no single indicator should be the sole basis for law enforcement action. The totality of behavioral indicators and other relevant circumstances should be evaluated when considering any law enforcement response or action.

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