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How to Spot Suspicious Behavior When Traveling

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Suspicious behavior can happen anywhere — malls, schools, family reunions — but it seems to happen more often in places that involve confusion. Airports, train depots, busy city sidewalks, and tourist locations are prime places for the confused, places where people are too busy trying to get from place to place to take notice of those lurking in the corner.

Those of you who travel are often the victims of petty crimes. With a little vigilance, however, you might find it easier to spot the suspicious before the suspicious spot you.

Watch Out For People Who Appear Overly Helpful

Not every Good Samaritan should fall under a veil of suspicion, but many con artists use a helpful appearance to get what they are after. Some may tell you that you have mustard or ketchup on your pants, stealing your wallet as they help you wipe it off. Some may tell you that you have a phone call, only to steal your things when you are occupied. Some may say you look lost and offer to help you find your way, only to find their hands with your purse in the end.

The best way to stop these kinds of people is to simply be cautious. Be careful of those offering assistance, and — if you feel they are more interested in helping themselves than helping you — politely decline.

Beware Of People Who Are Following You

In an area that is not crowded, it’s rather easy to notice if someone is following you: you can spot them with ease. In a populated area, however, you may not notice the person who seems to be every place you go, walking into the same coffee shop, looking inside the same bookstore, and taking the same escalator.

If you notice someone that appears to be every place you are, and this continues for a lengthy amount of time, it’s best to air on the side of caution and assume you’re being followed – and probably not for a noble reason. If you can’t lose your follower yourself, then seek out security and voice your concerns. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry – or mugged.

Be Cautious of People Who Are Acting Really Weird

Acting weird may be in the eye of the beholder. What seems weird to you could be completely normal to someone else. A lot of times, people act weird because they are nervous, anxious, or about to engage in less than legal behavior.

If you notice someone acting weird — someone who appears up to no good or gives you a “creepy” feeling — get away from them and stay away. If they are acting incredibly weird, find someone to check out the situation. It could be they are simply weird by nature, but it could also be something much more precarious.

Be Wary of People Who Exhibit Abnormal Body Language

Body language can speak volumes, particularly when someone is purposely misleading you. If someone strikes up a conversation with you and fails to maintain eye contact, frequently changes the tone of their voice, covers their face or mouth with their hands, fidgets, or turns their body away from yours, assume they have something to hide. Hide away from them. 

Listen for People Who Contradict Themselves

Nothing reveals a liar quite as much as someone who contradicts themselves. A person who changes their story is telling you they are lying. Maybe they initially told you they are catching a flight to Florida, only to say a few minutes later they are going to visit a sick aunt in New York City.

Whatever they say, if their story doesn’t match up, seems rehearsed, or involves far too much detail, chances are they are using it for some sort of cover up. Instead of calling them out on it, and possibly angering them, simply do a little storytelling of your own and tell them your husband — all six foot seven and three hundred pounds of him — is waiting for you near the elevator.

Suspicious behavior can be one of two things: a bad omen or a false alarm. While it’s best not to assume everyone is harmful and find yourself pointing accusations at innocent people (The Pope, perhaps), you should use caution when someone near you appears to be engaged in some wrongdoing. You may just want to remove yourself from the situation or simply take the grown-up route and tattletale.

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