STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — A series of explosions of packages containing bombs in Austin has prompted Highland Lakes law enforcement to issue safety warnings.
Authorities in a number of jurisdictions, including Burnet, Horseshoe Bay, and Lampasas, shared the suspicious package alerts shortly after the third explosion was reported March 12 in the capital, culminating in a federal investigation.
Within the past 10 days, the exploding packages claimed the lives of two Austin residents — a man in his 50s and a 17-year-old boy — and injured at least two others.
“We’re only sixty miles from (Austin). People think we’re so isolated, but in reality, the crime in Austin can make its way out into the Hill Country,” Burnet Police Cpl. Devin Vyner said. “We ask that you exercise caution. Be alert.”
Local agencies shared an FBI graphic on social media and municipal websites with the following package or mail characteristics that should raise suspicion:
- protruding wires;
- lopsided or unevenly wrapped box;
- rigid or bulky texture;
- incorrect title or addressed to a title instead of a name;
- strange odor;
- no return address;
- sealed with tape;
- restrictive markings such as “PERSONAL!” or “DO NOT X-RAY TAPE ENCLOSED;”
- misspelled words or badly typed or written text;
- unknown powder or suspicious substance;
- and excessive postage (possibly mailed from a foreign country).
“The incidents in Austin were mainly packages, but you can receive toxic materials in envelopes almost easily as a cardboard box … even a manila envelope,” Vyner said. “We can do our (initial) investigation. Generally, we can make a determination if there needs to be additional resources.”
Here are the steps to take if a suspicious package or envelope arrives at a residence or workplace:
- Do not handle the package or envelope.
- Do not open, smell, or taste it.
- Isolate the package immediately.
- If at work, inform a supervisor and enact an emergency plan.
- If at home, call 9-1-1.
- Wash hands with soap and water.
“If it just shows up, and you realize you didn’t order anything, then just notify us,” Vyner said. “If you’re like my house, we have packages arriving from Amazon almost every day.
“If it looks weird or seems odd, let us check it out,” he added. “We want you to remain vigilant.”