From UWPD: What makes an object suspicious?

What makes an object suspicious? When should I report it to the Police? These are very logical and appropriate questions for students, staff and faculty to ask. It is our hope you will be able to answer these important questions after reading the below offered recommendations.

Characteristics of a suspicious package

  • Rigid or bulky
  • Lopsided or uneven
  • Wrapped in string or heavy duct tape
  • Badly written or misspelled labels
  • Excessive postage
  • No postage
  • Foreign writing, postage or return address
  • Leaks, stains, powders, or protruding materials
  • Ticking, vibration, or other sounds
  • Plastic bottles containing liquids that are taped or tied together
  • An object that you recognize as being out of place in your work environment
  • An apparent handmade object with wiring or batteries attached

Bombs can be constructed to look like almost anything and can be placed or delivered in any number of ways. Most bombs are home made. Suspect anything that looks unusual until proven otherwise by a police officer

How to react

  • Leave the object where it was found. Do not touch or disturb it in any way
  • Clear the immediate area of all persons and keep others away
  • Cordon off the immediate area
  • Call the University of Wisconsin Police at 608-262-2957 or 911
  • Remember to stay calm. Do not panic

Make contact with the responding police officer to provide information about the object and its exact location
Do not worry about possible embarrassment if the object turns out to be innocent. It is always better to error on the side of public safety. Let a trained police officer make the decision if the object is harmless or needs further inspection to determine if it is harmless or not.

Remember to call 911, isolate the object and evacuate!

To learn more on recognizing and responding to suspicious mail packages go to the US Postal Inspection Services website at

by Detective Brett Fernholz
From the March 2012 BADGEr Beat Newsletter