Portage Police investigate claims of tampering with over-the-counter vitamins

PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Stores across Kalamazoo County are checking their shelves after reports surfaced of someone switching out vitamins with medications.

Detectives with Portage Public Safety say a Meijer customer alerted the store about vitamin tampering.

Police were called immediately, and they launched a widespread investigation Wednesday.

Newschannel 3 has been told that the investigation affects several jurisdictions throughout the county.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office is involved, as well as the Portage Police.

Someone is switching out vitamins with everything from chocolate chips to blood thinners.

Right now, detectives are looking for the suspect, who is allegedly going around Kalamazoo County and switching out vitamins with other potentially harmful medications.

They tell Newschannel 3 that at least 5 Meijer locations throughout the county have been hit, and other stores not affiliated with the corporation could also be targets.

Customers told Newschannel 3 they were concerned about the potentially harmful effects it could have to innocent victims.

Detectives say Mega Red Ultra Strength Omega 3 Krill Oil is the main target, but no one is ruling out the possibility that other vitamin bottles could have been tampered with.

"I make sure everything isn't tampered with before I take it home," customer Megann Larson said. "You need to make sure your family is safe."

Investigators say a list of things have been thrown in the bottles, including other vitamins, cat food, chocolate chips, walnuts, a blood thinner, a heart medication, and prescription ibuprofen.

They also say some of the bottles were spray painted black and thrown in the original cardboard box to look like everything was okay.

"Somebody was opening packages and putting other items in the bottles, and then either returning the bottles to the store, or putting them back on the shelves themselves," said Portage Detective Dereck Hess.

For their part, customers say they're still being cautious.

"I think it's extremely dangerous, especially considering people are seeking something healthy for themselves, and if they have no idea the concept of, everything should be sealed nowadays; even my orange juice is sealed," said customer Stacy Victor.

Detectives say this case could also affect other stores besides Meijer.

Meijer Director of Public Relations Frank Guglielmi issued the following statement to Newschannel 3 about the reports:

"We are fully cooperating with law enforcement right now. Anytime anyone is uncomfortable with anything purchased at our stores, they can return it for a refund."