USA TODAY | by Jordan Culver | January 7, 2019
It’s not uncommon to have an occasional influx of bedbugs at a motel. But at a Walmart?
That’s exactly what police in northwestern Pennsylvania are investigating after several of the creepy critters were found crawling around a Walmart men’s fitting room. Pill bottles containing the bugs were also found in the store.
Law enforcement officers believe the bugs were deliberately released into the Walmart near Erie. The motive isn’t known.
An employee at the Walmart in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, first found a closed pill bottle containing live bed bugs on Thursday, police said. The bottle was found inside a boy’s jacket, which was for sale.
The jacket was “disposed of” according to police, and Ecolab, a company focused on “clean water, safe food and healthy environments,” according to its website, came to the Walmart the next day. An Ecolab employee found and identified the bed begs in the men’s fitting room.
Police were alerted after a second closed pill bottle was found on Saturday. The second bottle contained several dead bed bugs and was found in the men’s department, near the belts, according to police.
“Our third-party pest management service has visited the store, and after conducting a thorough review found no evidence of an infestation,” a Walmart spokesperson said in an email to USA TODAY.
“We believe this to be an isolated incident and are taking all the necessary steps to help ensure a safe environment for customers and associates. We will continue working with law enforcement as they conduct their investigation.”
The second bottle found at the store has been submitted for forensic analysis, according to police. Surveillance video from the store is also under review. Police said Walmart verified the incident was “isolated” after reaching out to other stores in the area.
Bed bugs can be found worldwide, according to the CDC. They don’t spread disease, can live for “several months” without feeding and aren’t considered dangerous, but can infest areas where people sleep and their bites can trigger serious allergic reactions, the CDC says.