UC Irvine Employees Receive Letters With Suspicious Powder

A fifth suspicious envelope was discovered — but not opened — Wednesday, Jan. 6, by a UC Irvine staffer working in the Arts, Culture & Technology building. The letter was addressed to a male associate professor of the arts. A woman opening the mail detected a granular substance in the envelope and called UCI police.  The powder will be tested. Powder from four identical envelopes — two discovered Monday and two more opened Tuesday — has been analyzed and was found to be harmless. No one has become ill.

The letters are believed to have been received by the campus during the December closure. Distribution and Document Management is now screening incoming mail for suspicious envelopes similar to those described above; however, mail that came in over the holidays was not screened using these criteria and much of it has already been distributed to campus departments. Therefore, caution is recommended when examining incoming mail. If you receive an envelope with an Idaho postmark from someone you do not know, do not open it; immediately call 911 or the UC Irvine Police Department at 949-824-5223.

With the Wednesday, Jan. 6, mail delivery, DDM provided plastic bags and instructions for handling items that you feel are suspicious but do not meet the criteria described above. You may return the unopened, suspicious item to DDM in the plastic bag. UCI Police will be present when suspicious items are opened for inspection. If the contents do not include a threatening message, or indicate the potential for a biological or chemical hazard, the item will be resealed with a label indicating it has been opened for inspection, and will then be delivered to the designated department.

We anticipate that the new screening procedure will delay delivery by no more than 24 hours. Full procedures for handling suspicious mail can be viewed at www.ddm.uci.edu.

These incidents are a serious crime and are being investigated in cooperation with federal authorities. Individuals responsible will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.