Recognizing and Handling a Suspicious Package
What are some of the characteristics of a suspicious package?
Some characteristics of a suspicious package or envelope include the following:
Incorrect or unusual labeling
- Excessive (too much) postage
- Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
- Common words spelled wrong
- Strange return address or no return address
- Wrong titles or title without a name
- Not addressed to a specific person
- Marked with stamps, such as “Personal,” “Confidential” or “Do not X-ray”
- Written threats on outside of package
- Postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address
- Unusual appearance
- Powdery substance felt through or appearing on the package or envelope
- Oily stains, other colored stains, smells
- Lopsided or uneven envelope
- Excessive packing material such as masking tape, string, etc.
- Other suspicious signs
- Heavy weight
- Ticking sound
- Wires or aluminum foil coming out of the package
What should be done if suspicious mail is received?
- Do not open a package or envelope if it looks suspicious.
- Do not shake or empty the contents of the package or envelope.
- Do not carry the package or envelope, show it to others or allow others to examine it.
- Put the package or envelope down on a stable surface.
- Do not sniff, touch, taste or look closely at the package or any of the contents that may have spilled out.
- Alert others in the area about the package or envelope.
- Leave the area, close any doors and take actions to prevent others from entering the area. If possible, shut off the ventilation system.
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- If at work, notify a supervisor, a security officer or a law enforcement official. If at home, contact the police and the local county health department. (Visit www.idph.state.il.us//local/alpha.htm for a listing of all county health departments in Illinois.)
- If possible, make a list of the people who were in the room or area when the suspicious package or envelope was received. Also make a list of people who handled it. Give the lists to both the police and the local public health authorities. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/mail/suspiciouspackages.asp
Reviewed by IPC Staff 11/2011