SIDNEY — A Houston man is one among several Americans to receive an unsolicited package from China recently. The package claiming to contain a handkerchief actually held two face masks.
Joshua Centers, brother and roommate of Seth Centers, the man the package was addressed to, was alarmed after being aware of reports of Ohio citizens receiving packages of unsolicited seeds from China in the mail. He felt it was worth reporting it to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
“Just thought it was kind of weird, and I was talking to my grandma about it and we were talking about those seeds (people were getting in the mail) that we heard about on the news,” Joshua Centers said. “The package came earlier in the afternoon, and when (Seth) got home from work, not thinking about it, he opened it up. And when he opened it up, there were those masks in it. But he just kind of threw it on the table and left it aside, not thinking anything about it.”
On the outside of the package, delivered to the Centers’ residence on Aug. 1, it said it contained a handkerchief, was non-toxic and was valued at $40, Centers explained. Joshua said he is the one, between he and his brother, who took the initiative to call the Sheriff’s Office.
“My brother never purchased anything from China, nor anything like that. And when you open it up, it happened to be two face masks inside, and not just the regular kind you see people wearing, but like some painter’s masks,” he said. “And I just thought it was kind of weird.”
Chief Deputy Jim Frye, with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, recommends for people to report any type of strange, unsolicited package.
“The thing we need to get through to people is if they get unsolicited stuff like this, they just need to get rid of it,” Frye said. “I think people aught to at least report it to us, like (Josh Centers did), that way we are aware of it. They can take photos of it like they did in this situation — obviously, don’t bring it down the Sheriff’s Office or take it into your local police department — but definitely report it and takes some pictures of the packages.”
“The best advice is just don’t open it; just throw it away,” Frye continued. “But if people feel the need to report it, which we would like them to do, take a picture of whatever packaging they received and send it to us. This way we can be aware and advise the public of possible new trends that people are doing.”
Two seeds packages have been turned in to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA); one was in Shelby County. One was turned in in Van Wert and the other in Xenia. The ODA is asking Ohioans to turn in unsolicited seeds to their local OSU extension office or mail to the USDA at 8995 E. Main St., Building 23, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068.
“It all seems very unusual right now, like everything else that’s going on,” Matt Schmerge, Shelby County OSU agriculture extension agent, noted.
The extension office advises people to not open, plant or experiment with the seeds being recieved in the mail. Instead, they are asked to mail the materials, including seeds and original packaging, in a resealable plastic bag to the USDA in Reynoldsburg or turn in at their local OSU extension office, 810 Fair Road, Sidney, OH 45365. Also, include contact information.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 937-498-1111. The Shelby County’s OSU Extension Office can be reached at 937-498-7239 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.