Postal Service armed with threat detectors


Tuesday, October 21st 2008, 10:48 pm
By: News 9


By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Chase Bank in Oklahoma City was just one of eight in the state of Oklahoma that received the threatening mail Monday.

Local investigators are part of the effort to find who's responsible.

Every year, the United States Postal Service processes about 203 billion pieces of mail, including a portion sorted in Oklahoma City. All the mail is screened by a machine for possible threats.

"We have in over 250 postal centers instituted bio-detection system while assist us in potential biological mailings," postal inspection Charlie Thigpen said.

The BDS tests are part of the defense against real anthrax mail threats. There is also equipment available for on-site testing, which was used during the Norman Chase Bank mailing threat.

"We can test on site to eliminate non-hazardous mailings," Thigpen said.

The threats in Norman were cleared within the same day, but other states were hit by the same hazardous mail.

"It's in Oklahoma, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Washington, and Texas," Thigpen said.

Each of the mailings was similar in nature and each hoax was taken seriously.

"They have a threatening communication in them as well as some white powder," Thigpen said.

Postal investigators like Thigpen are searching for who's responsible for the mail.

"We have addresses, we have information," Thigpen said. "We have unlimited resources."

Since the 2001 Anthrax attacks, there have been approximately 19,000 hoaxes, and while each one is taken seriously, investigators said chances of a real threat are small because of safeguards already in place.

"We've only had six known biological mailings. Four of those were the anthrax mailings back in 2001," Thigpen said.

Officials have counted about 30 hoax mailings targeted at Chase Bank in the last two days.

If you have any information on who is responsible, contact the postal inspector.