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Tips on Identifying Suspicious Packages

October 25, 2018

According to the FBI, several "suspicious packages" were received at multiple locations this week "containing potentially destructive devices." Suspicious packages could be delivered to your home or workplace, so it is good practice to be vigilant and aware of what to do.

The following might help in increasing your situational awareness, and in identifying a suspicious package:

  • Suspicious packages might bear restricted endorsements such as "personal" or "private." This is important when the addressee does not normally receive personal mail at the office.
  • The addressee's name and/or title might be inaccurate.
  • Suspicious packages or articles might reflect distorted handwriting, or the name and address might be prepared with homemade labels or cut-and-paste lettering.
  • Suspicious packages or articles might have protruding wires, aluminum foil or oil stains visible, and might emit a peculiar odor.
  • Suspicious packages or articles might have an excessive amount of postage.
  • Letter bombs might feel rigid or appear uneven or lopsided.
  • Suspicious packages or articles might be unprofessionally wrapped with several combinations of tape used to secure the package and might be endorsed "Fragile-Handle with Care" or "Rush-Do Not Delay."
  • Suspicious packages or articles might have an irregular shape, soft spots or bulges.
  • Suspicious packages or articles might make a buzzing or ticking noise or sloshing sound.
  • Pressure or resistance might be noted when removing contents from an envelope or parcel.

If you are worried about a package or letter you have received:

  • Do not handle, shake, smell or taste it.
  • Leave the letter or package where it is.
  • Call 9-1-1
  • Get everyone out of the room, close the door and notify everyone in the building.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Evacuate the building and wait in a safe place until the police or fire response teams arrive.

If you have opened a suspicious package:

  • Leave the package where it is.
  • Call 9-1-1
  • Remove any clothing that has powder or liquid on it and seal it in a plastic bag.
  • Get everyone out of the room and close the door.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Alert everyone in the building.
  • Evacuate the building and wait in a safe place until the police or firefighters arrive.