Suspicious packages can be encountered in a variety of different situations. These packages may be delivered to a home or business address or found in public or private locations. Effectively dealing with a suspicious package involves ascertaining whether a package should be treated as suspicious and contacting relevant authorities.
The unassuming nature of packages and their relative ease of movement from one area to another have caused them to become popular vehicles amongst criminals who wish to commit acts of terror or harm. An example of a situation when packages were used to commit a crime where when packages containing anthrax were sent to several prominent individuals in the United States in the early 2000s.
Intelligence agencies around the world have concluded that many packages that are to be deemed suspicious share many similar characteristics. Packages that exhibit these characteristics should not be touched and be reported immediately to the police.
Hallmark signs of a package that is suspicious are that it exhibits strange noises or strange smells. These strange noises may include those that resemble ticking. In terms of smell, the smell may be quite strong and resemble that of chemicals or cleaning products. If a package has any of these signs, it is possible that there is a malicious intent behind the package and should be reported.
Other signs that must be looked out for include excessive wires sticking out of the package, or the fact that there are extensive postage stamps. Furthermore, other signs such as badly spelled words, or a rough and uneven appearance are also indicative that the package should be treated as suspicious.
If a prominent or controversial individual receives an unknown package from an unknown sender it is important that the package is treated as suspicious. Individuals such as politicians have been noted to be sent prank packages from time to time, however, packages meant to inflict harm have also been well documented.
In general, packages that are received from unknown individuals without any explanation is more than enough reason to raise suspicions. Certain terror plots involve packages being sent to random individuals in order to raise panic and anxiety within a community. Whether the package was sent to a business or home, the principle is that packages without any discernible purpose should be treated suspiciously.
In general, although there are many different hallmark signs for these packages, if the individual that encounters the item reasonably believes that it is suspicious it should be reported. The consensus in these situations is that it is always better to be too cautious than otherwise.
All guidelines state that a suspicious package should never be opened. The contents of the package may be extremely harmful, especially in the case of a terror motive where the package may contain toxic or disease-causing compounds. The package should be left where it was found, or if it must be moved, placed on a flat surface before authorities are contacted.
If a suspicious package is opened, then the person that has opened the package must thoroughly wash their hands and shower afterward. Furthermore, anyone that was in the room or nearby when the package was opened should be noted and available for contact. Following analysis of the package the person that has opened the package may be required to be contacted and thus anyone who either directly contacted or was in the vicinity of the package should be noted.
Ultimately, once a suspicious item has been identified relevant authorities should be notified immediately, regardless of whether it was opened or not. Once this has been done, those involved in handling the item should remain in consultation with authorities until they are notified that the threat has been deemed over. The possible contents and motives behind suspicious packages are numerous and thus whenever encountered should be treated carefully and promptly reported.