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Suspicious Packages

The likelihood of receiving a life threatening package is remote. Unfortunately, however, a small number of life threatening packages have been discovered over the years, and they can result in death, injury and/or destruction of property

What can you do to help prevent an incident? First, consider whether you or your organization could be a target. Motives for bombings often are revenge, extortion, terrorism, business disputes or political/sociological change.

Keep in mind that an explosive, or other life threatening items (razorblades, anthrax) can be enclosed in either a parcel or an envelope, and its outward appearance is limited only by the imagination of the sender. However, suspicious packages have exhibited some unique characteristics which might assist you. To apply these factors, it is important to know the type of mail normally received by your department.

Things to Look For

  • 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/ 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 discover a suspicious package or letter and are unable to verify the addressee or sender:

  • If you have any reason to believe a package or article is suspicious, do not take a chance. Immediately contact the UC Merced Police Department at 209-228-2677 (CAT-COPS) or 911.
  • Do not move, alter, open, examine or disturb the article.
  • Do not put in water or a confined space such as a desk drawer or filing cabinet.
  • If possible, open windows in the immediate area to assist in venting potentially explosive gasses.
  • Isolate the suspicious package or article and clear the immediate area until the police arrives.