How to Recognize and Handle Suspicious Packages or Envelopes

DO NOT OPEN IT!  Notify LUPD Immediately, 880-7777


Handling Suspicious Packages or Envelopes 

  • Do not shake or empty contents of any suspicious 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 it or at contents, which may have spilled.
  • Alert others in the area about the suspicious package or envelope. 
  • Leave the area, close any doors, and take action to prevent others from entering the area.  If possible, shut off the ventilation system.
  • WASH hands with soap and water to prevent spreading potentially infectious material to face or skin. 
  • Seek additional instructions for exposed or potentially exposed persons.
  • Notify supervisor, Office of EHS & Risk Management (880-7115), and University Post Office.
  • If possible, create a list of persons who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized and a list of persons who also may have handled this package or letter.  Give this list to LUPD and Office of EHS & Risk Management.


FBI Advisory for Suspicious Packages


Safe Mail Handling Procedures

It is important that every employee handling or receiving mail can identify a suspicious letter or parcel.  Although occurrences are extremely rare, it is essential to know what to do when suspicious mail is received.  All staff must remain alert for the tell-tale signs of potentially dangerous mail and packages.

How to Recognize Suspicious Packages and Mail

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 to Suspicious Packages and Mail

  • 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 might 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 office is delayed
  • 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 of the area (keep others away)
  • To prevent spreading any powder or hazardous substance to your face, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.


Reviewed: 12/06/22