Suspicious Mail and Packages

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 safey 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.