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Suspicious Letter, Package, or Other Items

If you notice protruding wires, strange odors, smoke, vapors, beeping, ticking, or a suspicious powdery substance on letters, packages or any other unattended items that you discover, you should treat that item as suspicious, and follow these instructions:

  • Do not open, shake or disturb the contents.
  • Do not try to smell the item.
  • Do not pass to others or transport contents out of the area.
  • If you are holding the item, set it down carefully and walk away from it, then wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Call Vanderbilt Police (911 on campus phones, 322-2745 all other phones) and provide the location of the item, a description including size, and your location and contact number.

If the suspicious letter, package, or item has a powdery substance on the outside or is leaking:

  1. Follow the instructions listed above.
  2. Do not try to clean up powders or fluids.
  3. Place the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some other type of container to contain leakage of contents.
  4. If nothing is available, cover the item and leave it undisturbed. Close windows, turn off fans, close door, or section off the area to minimize exposure to others.
  5. Wash your hands with soap and water, and move to an area that minimizes your exposure.
  6. Remain in the area and restrict others from entering until the arrival of Vanderbilt Police.
  7. Terminate response when directed by Vanderbilt Police.
  8. Complete a "First Report of Injury" report and contact Occupational Health (6-0955) or, during off hours, call the Emergency Department (2-0145) if exposure occurred.

If any of these characteristics are present, you may need to consider a letter or package to be suspicious:

  • No return address
  • Use of restrictive markings
  • Excessive packaging material.
  • Addressed to title only, common words misspelled, poorly typed or written
  • Excessive postage
  • Oily stains, discolorations or crystallization on wrapper
  • Strange odor
  • Protruding wires

Suspicious Package or Letter

To contact the Vanderbilt University Police Department in an emergency:

  • Call 911 from any campus phone.
  • Call (615) 322-2222 from any other phone.