How to identify a suspicious package


Austin police and federal investigators are still trying to pin down who placed three explosive devices at homes throughout the city, leaving two dead and three wounded since March 2.

Since the latest blasts on Monday, authorities have urged area residents who receive a suspicious package to call police immediately.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says bombs can be designed to resemble common packages, bags or other household items.

LEARN MORE: Complete coverage of Austin’s package explosions 

The ATF says people should be on the lookout for several indicators that could point to suspicious packages, including the following:

  • Packages wrapped in string or twine
  • No postage, non-cancelled postage or excessive postage
  • Leaks, stains, strange odors, or protruding wires, string or electrical tape
  • Nonsensical or no return address
  • Handwritten addresses or labels from companies (check to see if the company exists and if it sent you a package or letter)
  • Foreign writing, addresses or postage
  • Badly typed, handwritten or misspelled name and address
  • Handwritten notes such as: “To Be Opened in Private,” “Confidential,” or “Prize Enclosed.”

The agency said the indicators are not the only signs that a package may be dangerous, and urges anyone who thinks they see one to never attempt to touch or move it, contact police and warn others to keep away.

Police had declined to describe the packages involved in the recent explosions in detail, but have said they are have arrived in cardboard packaging.


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