A woman was arrested after she licked $1,800 worth of merchandise at a California grocery store near the Nevada border, authorities said.
An employee at a Safeway supermarket in South Lake Tahoe told officers that Jennifer Walker, 53, put several pieces of jewelry from the store on her hands and licked them, before loading her shopping cart containing other store items, according to a news release from the city.
The store deemed all of the items in her cart unsellable due to cross-contamination, the employee said.
Walker was booked into the El Dorado County Jail on a charge of felony vandalism. Her bail was set for $10,000.
She is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday afternoon, the South Lake Tahoe Jail told CNN.
Grocery stores are taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously
As grocery stores are deemed essential businesses under stay-at-home orders and continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic, some of them have experienced similar incidents of contamination.
The unnamed woman entered small grocery chain Gerrity’s Supermarket in Hanover Township and started coughing on produce, bakery items, meat and other merchandise, chain co-owner Joe Fasula wrote on Facebook.
Officials don’t believe she’s infected with coronavirus but “will make every effort to see that she is tested,” Fasula wrote.
Federal officials have indicated that they would take threats of spreading coronavirus seriously. The Department of Justice said last month that people who intentionally spread the virus could be charged with terrorism.
Also in March, a New Jersey man who police said purposely coughed on a grocery store employee and said he had coronavirus was charged with making “terroristic threats.” It was not clear whether the man had a lawyer, the state’s attorney general said.
In Missouri, a 26-year-old man was charged this week with making a terrorist threat after he was filmed in early March licking sticks of deodorant at a Walmart, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. In a video, the man asks, “Who’s scared of coronavirus?” the newspaper reported.
That man’s attorney called the action “immature … tasteless and impulsive” but said it happened before the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic, the Post-Dispatch reported. That declaration “should not work retroactively and convert a tasteless and impulsive act into a criminal terrorist threat,” the lawyer told the paper.
CNN’s Scottie Andrew contributed to this report.