Suspicious objects, letters, or packages should always be taken seriously. As the public is increasingly more aware of these types of objects, a plan to ensure safety and security of your personnel is paramount. Know what to look for with the following advice.


Suspicious Objects, Letters, and Package Bombs

The best advice on suspicious objects is to avoid them. Never touch or pick up a suspicious object, and leave the area if you see one. Terrorists, organized crime figures, and others are skilled in hiding explosives in a variety of objects. Any item that cannot be identified as belonging to a specific person or in a particular place should be treated as suspicious.


The age of miniaturization allows terrorists and organized crime groups to hide explosives in an endless array of objects. Some examples of everyday objects used by terrorists as bombs include:

  • Sealed envelopes
  • Packages
  • Holiday and anniversary gifts
  • Suitcases
  • Briefcases
  • Purses
  • Backpacks
  • Sports bags
  • Trash
  • Lunch bags
  • Shopping bags
  • Toys
  • Books
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Bread and pastries
  • Bolts of fabric
  • Baby carriages
  • Motorcycles
  • Bicycles
  • Scooters
  • Cars

Target Locations

The prime locations for terrorist bombs are as follows:

  • Public places frequented by targeted individuals.
  • Public places that draw crowds, including public transport hubs; outdoor markets and festivals; shopping centers; nightclubs, and bars.
  • Forums or gatherings where prominent individuals give speeches. Do not attend such events unless security forces have completed a sweep and have cordoned off the area.



In many nations, signs are posted advising the public to be alert for such suspicious objects. If you are traveling with children, point out warning posters and reinforce the fact that they are in a different environment than back home. Impress upon them that they are not to touch any suspicious objects. Also tell them to:

  • Report the object and its location to an adult.
  • Pay attention to announcements in public places advising of a suspicious object and follow instructions. Leave the area as soon as possible.


Letter and Package Bombs


One of the favored ways to hide explosives when specific individuals are targeted is in a letter or a package.
Follow these steps:

  • While traveling, do not accept mail or unexpected deliveries unless you are sure of the source.
  • Do not accept sealed envelopes or packages to your hotel room.
  • If an unexpected package is in your room when you return, leave the room immediately, contact the front desk,
    and ask that it be removed.

Look for the following danger signs if you receive a sealed letter or package:

  • Is it from an unknown (to you) place?
  • Is there an excessive amount of postage?
  • Do the return address and the postmark differ?
  • Is the spelling on the item correct (especially check common words)?
  • Is the item marked conspicuously with the receiver's name, such as "Personal for Mr. Smith," or "Confidential for Mr. Smith"?
  • Is the item unusually heavy or light for its size?
  • Is the item uneven in balance or lopsided?
  • If an envelope, is it overly rigid?
  • Are there stains on the item?
  • Does it smell peculiar, like shoe polish or almonds?
  • Are wires or strings protruding from -- or attached to -- the item in an unusual way?
  • Does the letter or package contain an inner letter or package addressed to a particular individual? Is there an inner letter tied with a string, tape, wire, aluminum foil, rubber band, or any other compression item?


If the parcel is at all suspicious, do not touch it. If you are already holding it, place it down gently, leave the room or area, and call the police.


Additional Resources

Homeland Security also provides helpful tips for how to respond to bomb threats and suspicious items, as well as guidance for facility owners, operators, and managers.


About WorldAware

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