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Bomb Threats – Standard Operating Procedures

The vast majority of bomb threats are false alarms and are meant only to disturb or disrupt the normal work of a person or company. However, at no time should any call be regarded as just another false alarm. When a call is received, there are several things to do:

  1. Remain calm. If this is a real bomb threat, usually the reason the perpetrator has called is because he has changed his mind and wants the bomb to be neutralized.
  2. Keep the caller on the line as long as possible. Ask the caller to repeat the message.
  3. Obtain as much specific information from the caller as possible:
    • Location of the bomb.
    • Time of detonation.
    • Outside appearance or description of the bomb.
    • Reason for planting the bomb.
    • Caller’s name.
    • Any information which might give clues to anything above.
  4. Tell the caller the building is occupied and it may cause the death of innocent people.
  5. Listen for the sex of the caller, patterns of speech, and also background noises that might help in determining where the call is being made from.
  6. At the conclusion of the call, do the following:
    1. Notify the Property Management Office at (202) 872-1435 regarding the details of the call.
    2. If the call is received after hours, notify your tenant contact of the details of the call. He/she will contact Property Management.
    3. Await additional instructions.
    4. Complete the Telephone Bomb Threat Report Form (opens in new window).

The factor which most affects the careful handling of a telephone bomb threat is the person who receives the call. A bomb threat may be received by anyone and not necessarily by those who are best equipped to handle it. For example, a call may be received by:

  • A tenant
  • A tenant switchboard
  • Property Management
  • Security Officers

In all cases, the Property Management Office should be notified as soon as possible. Additional directives will be provided by the Property Management Office.

Outlined below are guidelines that will help us to become more alert to potential problems and knowledgeable in our immediate response. Bombs represent 50% of all terrorist incidents because they supply the variety and violence necessary to attract media coverage.

  1. Be sensitive to strangers in the building, especially to individuals using non-public areas of the building such as stairwells, mechanical closets and restrooms. Report all such individuals to Security and the Property Management Office immediately.
  2. Be alert to any unattended packages, cases, or abandoned vehicles. If a suspicious parcel or vehicle is noticed either in a conspicuous or inconspicuous area, notify the Property Management Office or Security immediately. Do not attempt to investigate the parcel or vehicle yourself.
  3. Pay special attention to individuals loitering in or directly outside the lobby, building perimeter, garage, loading dock, garage entrance ramps, mailroom, freight lobbies, roof, stairwells, etc. Also, anyone photographing or sketching the property should be suspected. Report such individuals directly to Lobby Security.
  4. A terrorist will not fit any special description. A terrorist will try to go about his work without drawing obvious attention to themselves. LOOK BEYOND THE OBVIOUS!! Be alert for unusual behavior or devices, not suspicious looking people of any certain race with any special attire. Terrorist groups have hired individuals of all races to carry out their acts.
  5. All individuals in a position to answer a phone should be knowledgeable of the building Bomb Threat Procedures. Take all threatening calls seriously and report them to the Property Management Office immediately.
  6. Show care in exercising normal building and company security procedures. Pay special attention to adhering to all access control policies, sign in/out, locking door, not leaving the space unattended, etc.


Threatening or harassing phone calls can be traced by hanging up and pressing *57. Police urge anyone who receives a bomb threat to use the Call Trace Service. Here’s how it works:

  • After Hanging up, pick up the phone and listen for a dial tone. No matter how long the call lasted, it can still be traced
  • Listen for the operator to confirm the trace and hang up. The origin of the last call has been recorded.
  • If the call was a bomb threat or threatened emergency, call 911 after making the trace.
  • Call the phone company’s annoying-calls office at (202) 954-6826 and report the trace.
  • Keep a record of the date and time you made the trace. Keep notes on any specifics, such as the accent of the caller or any background noises.

NOTE: There is a charge for each trace.


Mail bombs have been employed against individuals and organizations for purposes of revenge, extortion, and terrorism.

Consider the following when examining mail; the physical appearance of a mail bomb is limited only by the imagination of the bomber. However, mail bombs have exhibited unique characteristics that should be helpful in identifying a suspect item.

  1. Mail bombs have been contained in letters, books and parcels of varying sizes, shapes, and colors.
  2. Letters feel rigid, appear uneven or lopsided, or are bulkier than normal.
  3. Oil stains may be present on the wrapper.
  4. Use of an excessive amount of postage stamps.
  5. The sender is unknown.
  6. No return address.
  7. Unusual restricted endorsements such as “Personal” or “Private”.
  8. The addressee normally does not receive personal mail at the office.
  9. Name and title of addressee are not accurate.
  10. Return address insures anonymity of sender (i.e., homemade labels, cut and paste lettering).
  11. Mailing emits a particular odor.
  12. Mailing appears to be disassembled or re-glued.
  13. Handwriting appears distorted or foreign.
  14. Protruding wires, metal, or string are present.
  15. Pressure or resistance is noted when removing the contents.
  16. Outer container is shaped irregularly or asymmetrically, or has soft spots or bulges.
  17. Wrapper exhibits previous use such as traces of glue, mailing labels, return address or tape.
  18. Several combinations of tape are used to secure the parcel.
  19. Unprofessionally wrapped parcel is endorsed “Fragile - Handle With
  20. Care” or “Rush - Do Not Delay”.
  21. Package makes a buzzing or ticking noise.
  22. Contents of parcel makes a sloshing sound.


  1. Call 911.
  2. Notify the Property Management Office at (202) 872-1435 immediately. If this occurs after hours notify your tenant contact. He/she will contact Property Management.
  3. Do not open the article.
  4. Isolate the mailing and evacuate and secure the immediate area.
  5. Do not put the article in water or a confined space such as a desk drawer or filing cabinet.
  6. Notify the Property Management Office at (202) 872-1435 immediately. If this occurs after hours notify your tenant contact. He/she will contact Property Management.

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