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department of Public Safety

Handling suspicious mail

Hazardous agents can be enclosed in either a package or an envelope, and its outward appearance is limited only by the imagination of the perpetrator. However, some unique characteristics may assist the identification of a suspect mailing.

Things to remember when receiving mail

  • Mail bombs may bear restricted endorsements such as "personal" or "private."
  • Addressee's name or title may be inaccurate.
  • Return address may be fictitious or not available.
  • Hazardous mail may have distorted handwriting or the name may be prepared with homemade labels or cut and paste lettering.
  • Cancellation or postmark may show a different location than the return address.
  • Hazardous mail may have excessive postage.
  • Letter bombs may feel rigid, or appear uneven or lopsided.
  • Package bombs may be unprofessionally wrapped with several combinations of tape used to secure the package and may be endorsed "fragile-handle with care" or "rush-do not delay."
  • Hazardous mail may have an irregular shape, soft spots, or bulges.
  • Hazardous mail may make a sloshing sound. Although placed devices may buzz or tick, mailed bombs generally do not.
  • Pressure or resistance may be noted when removing contents from an envelope or package.

If you are suspicious of a mailing and are unable to verify the contents

  • Do not open.
  • Isolate the mailing and evacuate the immediate area.
  • Do not put it 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 potential explosive gases.
  • If you have any reason to believe a letter or package is suspicious, do not take a chance or worry about possible embarrassment if the item turns out to be innocent. Contact the Department of Public Safety at (254) 501-5800.

If I receive an anthrax threat by mail

  • Do not handle the mail piece or package suspected of contamination.
  • Make sure that damaged or suspicious packages are isolated and the immediate area cordoned off.
  • If possible try to identify all of the people who may have come into contact with the suspicious mail.
  • Ensure that all persons who have touched the piece of mail wash their hands with soap and water.
  • Contact the Department of Public Safety at (254) 501-5800.
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