Bomb Threats/Suspicious Packages

Bomb threats. Explosive mail and packages. It can happen here.  

On June 22, 1993, a geneticist at UCSF received a package at his home. On opening it, he became a victim of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. In 2008, animal welfare extremists bombed UC Santa Cruz researchers’ homes and vehicles. No one is immune to bomb threats and attacks. 

If a caller makes a bomb threat at your UCSF workplace 

As distressing as such a call is, try your best to: 

  • Remain calm. 
  • Be courteous to the caller: Listen, and do not interrupt.  


  • Get the attention of another person.  
  • Hand off a note saying, “Call UCSF Police – bomb threat – 911.” 
  • If your phone has caller ID display, record the number of the incoming call. 
  • As best you can, write down the exact words of the caller and threat.  

When the caller hangs up: 

  • Don’t hang up, too. Leave the line open. 
  • Notify a supervisor immediately. 
  • Use this Bomb Threat Checklist to record additional details from the call.  

What do suspicious letters and packages look like? 

When getting and sorting your mail, be alert for envelopes or packages with: 

An odd or unusual appearance 

  • Excessive tape 
  • Oily stains and/or discoloration on the wrapping 
  • A strange odor 
  • A rigid or bulky “feel” 
  • Lopsidedness or unevenness 
  • Protruding wires 
  • An unknown powder or other suspicious substance leaking from the package 

Address oddities 

  • No return address 
  • Excessive postage 
  • Misspelled words  
  • Boldface type or dark, “standout” handwriting 
  • May have been mailed from a foreign country  

What to do if you receive mail or a package that looks suspicious 

  • STOP! Don’t touch it or handle it in any way. 
  • Don’t try to open, smell or taste it. 
  • Isolate it immediately by getting everyone in the area a safe distance from it. 
  • Once you’re in a safe place, immediately call 911 from a campus telephone or (415) 476-6911 from an off-campus telephone. 
  • Do not use your cell phone at the scene. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.