MISSION VIEJO (CBSLA) — Authorities are asking for the public’s help to identify a man seen opening water bottles in a Mission Viejo grocery store.

An employee spotted the suspicious activity Monday at about 2:30 p.m. at the Ralphs supermarket bordering Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. The employee confronted the man, who ran out of the store and left in a white SUV, Orange County sheriff’s officials said.

Video of the incident shows him removing the lids off some water bottles, but authorities didn’t say if he did anything else.

In a statement, Ralphs/Kroger spokesman John Votava said: “The safety of our associates and customers is our number one priority. Our store team immediately contacted the Orange County Sheriff and swiftly removed all tampered packages, which were provided to the Sheriff for testing.”

Store employees removed as many as 10 cases of water from shelves as a precaution. Sheriff’s officials say several were collected as evidence to determine if the water was contaminated in some way.

The man was described as being in his late 20 to early 30s, about 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, with a beard and wearing a bright orange shirt and blue jeans.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said the incident was a reminder to carefully examine all food product packaging and pass on products with packaging that is open, torn or damaged.

Customers say this might not stop them from buying water, but they’ll be more vigilant opening the bottles.

“My daughter and I, we all came to the conclusion: check your caps and, you know, squeeze the bottle, make sure nothing’s coming out of it,” said shopper Angelo Capellanio.


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