Things You Didn't Know About Identifying Suspicious Mail

Things You Didn't Know About Identifying Suspicious Mail

M. C. Millman

The Community Security Initiative (CSI) issued a community alert to help members navigate suspicious mail after numerous Jewish institutions dealt with this issue recently.

The CSI relayed that two distinct kinds of suspicious mail have been received in the last few months: conspiratorial letters and suspicious substance letters. 

Conspiratorial letters have been delivered to Jewish institutions in New York and across the country. These letters are non-threatening and typically have Christian religious references and rambling language.

Suspicious substance letters have been delivered to multiple Jewish institutions. These letters either have a suspicious substance or a strange odor after opening. According to the CSI, these incidents have been deemed non-life-threatening by law enforcement at this time.

CSI strongly advises that "mail from an unknown sender should not be opened" and that "an emergency plan should be put in place for such incidents." The organization also encourages all institutions to develop an emergency plan for suspicious mail. 

The USPS has further recommendations for suspicious mail indicators and what to do. 

Identifying suspicious mail:

-No return address

- Misspelled or badly typed/written words

- Possibly mailed from a foreign country

- Excessive postage

- Strange odor, oily stains, discolorations, or crystallization on wrapper

- Excessive tape 

- Protruding wires

If you receive a suspicious letter or package:

- Stop. Don't handle

- Isolate the mail immediately

- Don't open, smell, or taste

- Activate emergency plan. Notify a supervisor

If suspicious mail has been opened accidentally, the CSI recommends: 

1. Leave the package in place

2. Immediately evacuate the room and close the door. No one but police should enter that room

3. Inform someone to dial 911

4. Personnel should evacuate the area and not re-enter until law enforcement declares it safe 

5. Anyone opening such a package with an unknown substance should immediately and thoroughly wash their hands

6. Shut down the building's HVAC, air conditioners, air purifiers, etc. 

7. When the police arrive, follow their directions

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