By now, most everyone has seen the viral video of a young woman at a supermarket doing what a vast majority of Texans might consider the unthinkable.
Law enforcement officers, with the help of members of several communities, believe they tracked down a teen girl who went inside a Lufkin-area Walmart, pulled a container of Blue Bell ice cream off a shelf, licked it, and then returned it to the shelf to be purchased, all on camera. She then posted the video on a social media site for the world to see and was identified in fairly short order.
“It’s pretty nasty. People go in and they buy their goods, they have certain expectations for things to be fresh and clean,” said Officer Matt Schima, public information officer and crime prevention officer for the Cibolo Police Department. “When things like that go viral, that video, it kind of makes people think about their purchases.”
But the nasty didn’t stop there.
More recently, authorities in Louisiana said they arrested a man for committing a similar act at a store in that state. According to published reports, the man had paid for the container of Blue Bell before he violated it on video and also posted the recording to a social media site.
Still, law enforcement officers arrested and charged the man for seeking notoriety and publicity in connection with the video posting.
At the same time, members of police agencies in Texas began posting videos and photos of themselves posted up in front of store freezers, guarding the goods.
Cibolo police posted such an image on the department’s Facebook page.
“In Texas, we take Blue Bell seriously,” Schima said.
In the photo, he and four other members of the department posed as sentries in front of the Blue Bell freezer at a local Walmart, Schima said. The photo has garnered a good deal of attention, he said.
“It’s reached about 85,000 people,” Schima said. “So we’re having fun.”
Cibolo police had a little fun with it but they know it’s not all fun and games, he said. Blue Bell leadership took the first video seriously and tried to have the teen tracked down and identified.
Once her identity became known, the company issued a statement on its website.
“We thank everyone for their assistance in this case including the San Antonio Police Department, Lufkin Police Department, Walmart, and our customers who alerted us to this incident,” the statement said. “Food safety is our top priority, and we work hard to provide a safe product and maintain the highest level of confidence from our consumers. We are always looking for ways to improve, including looking at methods within our manufacturing process to add additional protection to the carton.”
Texas juvenile justice authorities are in charge of the case to do whatever is deemed appropriate, the statement said.
Consumers must help authorities by being vigilant and alerting someone if something appears wrong with their food items, Schima said.
Shoppers should notify store management if they find something that appears out of place, he said. If store managers contact officers in his department, Schima said such cases will be investigated and proper actions taken.
“We would talk to management and see about any tampering. We’d look to see if there are charges and see if we could get some video evidence,” he said. “We definitely would track them down and make sure proper charges were filed.”