How to Recognize Suspicious Mail and Packages
One indicator of a suspicious package or piece of mail includes inappropriate or unusual labeling, such as:
- Excessive postage
- Misspelled common words
- No return address or strange return address
- Unusual addressing, such as not being addressed to a specific person or the use of incorrect titles or titles with no name
- Restrictive markings, such as “personal,” “confidential,” or “do not x-ray”
Other indicators include an unusual or inappropriate appearance, including:
- Powdery substances felt through or appearing on the item
- Oily stains or discolorations on the exterior
- Strange odors
- Excessive packaging material, like tape or string
- Lopsided or bulky shape of envelopes or boxes
- Ticking sounds, protruding wires, or exposed aluminum foil
Procedures for Handling Suspicious Mail and Packages
When a mail item appears suspicious, there are a number of steps you should take in order to ensure your own safety and protect the safety of others.
- Stay calm.
- Do not open the letter or package (or open any further), do not shake it, do not show it to others, or empty its contents.
- Leave the letter or package where it is or gently place it on the nearest flat surface.
- If possible, gently cover the letter (use a trash can, article of clothing, etc.).
- Shut off any fans or equipment in the area that may circulate the material.
- Alert others nearby to relocate to an area away from the site of the suspicious item.
- Take essential belongings, like cell phones, keys, purse, etc. with you in case return to your office is delayed.
- Contact the Pitt Police immediately at 412-624-2121.
- Leave and close the door to the space containing the suspicious letter or package, cover the threshold area under the door with a towel or a coat if possible, and section off the area (keep others away).
- Wash your hands to prevent spreading any powder or hazardous substance to your face.