It's comforting to know that there's someone responsible and accountable at your door to receive your packages and hold them for you in a safe place, but since 2001, it may give you even more peace of mind to know that your building staff is also on the lookout for anything suspicious or possibly dangerous that might arrive amongst the influx of holiday mail and packages.
Often, one of the amenities that attracts people to co-op and condo living in the city is the presence of a doorman or concierge, stationed at the building during the day to receive, screen, log in and ensure delivery of packages. Since the attacks on September 11th, many buildings have put procedures in place to ensure resident safety. The holiday season promises a massive increase in deliveries of all types, from oversized boxes to envelopes containing faux snow and glitter. Your doorman or concierge is usually the first person in the building to handle incoming packages, and as such can take steps to make sure incoming parcels are safe.
Even before September 2001, the U.S Postal Service (USPS) and other mailing services had their own security screening processes in place to check items as they enter the postal service's mailstream for processing and delivery. According to the 2002 edition of The Mail Center Security Guide, a booklet published by the USPS to educate mailroom workers and supervisors about general security and mail-borne hazards, "An effective mail center security program includes policies and procedures to reduce risks and losses." Those policies include alerting a supervisor or monitor in the mailroom should something suspicious come down the pike, and handling any odd or uncertain packages with care, quarantining or otherwise dealing with those that could be dangerous.
Even with extensive checks in place, it is still important for all packages - be they envelopes or boxes - to be checked in and kept secure until they're claimed by the person they're addressed to. It's probably safe to assume that - with very rare exceptions - any prohibited items attempting to come through the U.S mail and commercial companies will have been screened and rejected, according to USPS policies. But what happens once the package does reach the property or isn't immediately put into the addressee's hands?
Of course, nowadays, there is computer software that buildings can install to handle everything from tracking intra-building memos to logging in packages and envelopes, and 24-hour, Web-based systems that can give shareholders and unit owners access to building goings-on, whether in their home, at the office, or away on vacation. According to Jerry Kestenbaum and Fran Besdin of BuildingLink.com, a Long Island City, New York-based company that sells such software, with manual or non-computerized systems, residents run a much greater risk of package loss, damage, or even outright theft.