Updated 02.09.2015

Suspicious mail

Precautions when receiving suspicious mail


1. Stay calm.  Probably there is a natural explanation


2. Avoid handling the package:

It is important to avoid handling the shipment as much as possible to minimise potential dissemination through the air. Thus, the following should be avoided:

  • Opening the letter/parcel
  • Moving the letter/parcel
  • To attempt to put the letter/parcel in a bag or sack etc.


3. Put the letter/parcel carefully where found


4. Minimise movement:

It is essential to minimise movement and traffic in the room where the shipment is placed. Persons in the room should move around carefully and as little as possible.


5. Collect information:

Before leaving the room it should be attempted to collect as much information as possible about the shipment so this can be passed on in details. The following observations are particularly important:

  • Basis of suspicion – why is the shipment suspicious?
  • Appearance
  • Size
  • Form (letter/parcel)
  • Postal stamps
  • Recipient and sender, if provided
  • Writings or drawings
  • Typing and spelling
  • Labels
  • Letter, possibly including threats
  • Enhancements of the shipment, or other indications that appear suspicious or unusual
  • Method of sealing
  • Leakage
  • Possible signs of visible powder


6. Take photos

If persons in the room are in possession of a camera, for example in a mobile phone, photos should be taken of the shipment and potentially visible powder. Photos are extremely useful for the subsequent investigation.


7. Contact the Police


8. Confine the damage

When leaving the room, the following steps should be taken in order to confine potential further harmful consequences:

  • Close doors and windows
  • Stop any ventilation systems


9. Evacuate the room carefully

Persons who have found and handled the shipment should carefully evacuate the room, and subsequently, only incident management personnel is allowed to enter the room.


9. Persons with visible contamination (i.e. powder on their clothes)

  • Wash off powder without getting in contact with mouth and eyes.
  • If possible: Take a shower and change clothes. After this, you may move freely.
  • If a shower is not possible: Await assistance and wait in a neighboring room with a phone.


10. Persons who a are not visibly contaminated but who have been in the room with the shipment

Await assistance and wait in a neighboring room with a phone.


12. The Police contact the Centre for Biosecurity and Biopreparedness (CBB) on the 24/7 duty number: 3268 8127

CBB conducts a scientific analysis of the incident and provides advice. The following assessments are provided:

  1. The incident is not dangerous. It is not necessary to take any further steps and daily business can be resumed.
  2. Based on the information available, it cannot be ruled out that dangerous biological materials may be present and special investigation is required. CBB and the Police conduct special investigations.

Contact us

Centre for Biosecurity and Biopreparedness 
Statens Serum Institut

5 Artillerivej
DK-2300 Copenhagen S

Telefon: +45 32688127
Email: cbb@ssi.dk