Safety Alert

Suspicious Packages Indicators

In recent months several jurisdictions across the country have experienced incidents in which the use of the biological agent anthrax has been threatened. These threats have been received in two forms. In a number of cases a letter or package was delivered to a facility. When opened, the letter or package was found to contain a powder and a note indicating that the contents were Anthrax. In other cases, a phone call was placed informing the receiving party that Anthrax had been placed inside a building.

No live agent of any kind was found in any of these prior cases. It is, however, important to be aware of indicators and recognition points of suspicious packages including biological, chemical, or bomb threats in the workplace since an incident or threat doesn't become a hoax until it is proven to be a hoax.

For Letter and Parcels, indicators include:

  • Excessive postage
  • Incorrect titles
  • Titles without names
  • Oily stains or discoloration
  • Rigid envelope
  • Restrictive markings such as "Confidential" or "Personal"
  • Excessive securing material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Lopsided or uneven envelope
  • No return address
  • Poorly written or typed envelopes

Caution should be exercised if combinations of any of the above indicators are present. It is best to have an expert assess the letter/package if there are concerns. React, but do not over react. Do not touch, move or open any suspect package and contact the University Police Department by calling 511 from any University phone or (215) 573-3333 from non-University phones.

In light of the fact that there has been a rash of suspicious packages sent through the US mail nationally in recent months (it is notable and fortunate that all, so far, have been hoaxes) the University Police Department would like to make you aware of letter and package bomb indicators.

--Department of Public Safety


Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 31, May 2, 2000

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