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Suspicious Packages

Suspect Package
Graphic courtesy of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.

Typical characteristics of a mail or package bomb:

  1. Feel and Balance. Letter or packages that have unusual weight, is lopsided, is oddly shaped, or is oddly sealed. Can you hear a sloshing sound? Does it feel unusual (i.e., rigid, springiness, undue pressure, etc.). WARNING - EXAMINE MAIL GENTLY!
  2. Foreign Packages. If the item is from another country, is it expected? Do you have relatives or friends traveling? Did you buy something from an international organization, a charitable or religious group?
  3. Place of Origin. Check the delivery postmark. Is it a familiar one?
  4. Unrequested Deliveries. Is correspondence from the sender expected? Do the characteristics of the envelope or package resemble the expected contents? The addressee normally doesn't receive personal mail at the office.
  5. Unusual addressing or Delivery Instructions. There are unusually restrictive endorsements (i.e., "Personal" or "Private.") Parcel is endorsed "Fragile-Handle with Care" or "Rush-Do not Delay" and not professionally wrapped. The addressee's name and title are not accurate. The sender is unknown. There's no return address.
  6. Smell. Has a strange odor (i.e., smell of almonds or marzipan or any other strange smell) coming from the package or letter.
  7. Sender's Writing. Any mail should be treated with caution if it features a foreign style of writing, not normally received, on the address. This goes along with the Place of Origin.
  8. Protruding Wires. Are there any protruding wires, strings, tape, etc. present?
  9. Suspicious packaging. Wrapping exhibits previous use such as traces of glue, mailing labels, return addresses or tape. The parcel is secured with several types of tape. Excess postage on small packages.
  10. Sound. If there's any unusual sound or noise coming from the package (i.e., buzzing, ticking), the package should be treated with caution.

If the suspicious package has not been touched:

  1. If a suspicious delivery is spotted, do not touch it, and don't allow anyone else to touch it.
  2. Evacuate the area.
  3. During evacuation, leave doors and windows open.
  4. Keep people away from the area.
  5. CALL University Police. Dial 911
  6. Do not handle the suspicious object, and do not try to carry it outside.
  7. Do not place the item in water.

If an item is suspected during handling:

  1. Handle it very gently and while making sure not to turn it over or unbalance it, place the item in a corner of the room.
  2. Make sure the device is placed away from windows.
  3. Make sure the windows are open.
  4. Evacuate the room, and surrounding rooms if necessary. During evacuation, leave doors and windows open.
  5. Keep people away from the area.
  6. CALL University Police. Dial 911
  7. Do not try to carry the device outside. Use the above procedures only.


Real or Hoax?

Most bomb threats are hoaxes which are made in an effort to disrupt normal business. However, no bomb threat should be dismissed as a hoax without notifying the proper authorities immediately.

Upon receiving a telephone bomb threat it is important to notify your immediate supervisor and the University Police as soon as the caller hangs up.

Use the Bomb Threat Checklist to record any information.

Dial 911 to reach the University Police, or X 7-2222

Rule Number One - Be Calm. Be Courteous. Listen, do not interrupt the caller.

Report any suspicious packages or bomb threats immediately.

Use the Bomb Threat Checklist at this link

Last Updated: 1/3/19