Authorities in Pennsylvania are trying to figure out who released, or attempted to release, an unknown number of bedbugs inside of an Edinboro Walmart, The Associated Press reports. Key details of this crime remain in dispute, however.
Police were called to the Northwestern Pennsylvania Walmart location on Saturday after a manager reported that on the previous Thursday, employees found a pill bottle filled with bedbugs inside of a boy's jacket which was for sale left in the men's dressing room. Conflicting reports muddle the question of whether or not any of the bugs were still alive; one report states that the bugs were all dead, while another claims that some were still alive.
Regardless, the police were called after a third party, in this case testing company Ecolab, confirmed that the pill bottle contained bedbugs. An Ecolab employee also noted that he or she witnessed live bedbugs crawling around the men's dressing room, according to CNN.
"A third-party pest management service has visited the store and we are working with them to assess next steps. In the meantime, we have blocked off the impacted area," a Walmart spokesperson said.
It remains unclear, as of this writing, if any living bedbugs managed to escape the Walmart, whether via merchandise or via having attached to customers or their clothes themselves. It's also unclear whether or not Walmart had to throw away any merchandise.
"We take this seriously and are looking into this. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement on their investigation," the Walmart spokesperson said.
Police have taken fingerprints and are conducting an investigation, but as of this writing, they have no suspects and no leads. And as for what crime the person could be charged with, if indeed he or she is ever caught, it looks like, at worst, they would be facing misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges.
Bedbugs, or Cimex lectularius, are tiny, barely-visible parasites that thrive on human and animal blood. Though they aren't known to transmit any diseases, they can leave itchy bite marks.
And, they can be nearly impossible to get rid of.
Resistant to most pesticides, the insects can generally only be dealt with through a specialized extermination process that costs hundreds if not thousands of dollars per infested room, and that doesn't have a 100 percent success rate. Sometimes, multiple visits are required to completely rid a home of bedbugs.
Professional exterminators say that you should be making phone calls as soon as you see a bedbug. The longer you wait, the worse the problem will get, and the more costly it will be to deal with it.