Police: Food-Tainting Suspect Targeting Baja Fresh, Raley’s in South Lake Tahoe

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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE -- A bold and unusual crime is caught on camera at Raley's at Heavenly Village.

"The suspect enters into the restaurant and finds an opportunity to go up to the open food source and distribute some sort of chemical contaminant onto the food, directly onto the food, and leaves immediately thereafter," said Lt. Brian Williams with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Investigators believe a serial offender has struck roughly eight times in the past two weeks at Raley's self-serve wok area and Baja Fresh's salsa bar.

"The method of operation this suspect has used as well as a description seems to indicate that these are related crimes," Williams said.

Investigators say the suspect is leaving a chemical that smells like bleach on the food.

"I just think that's dumb and stupid," said Gwen Coleman.

"What can I say? Deranged!" exclaimed Sherri Coleman.

This weekend a 12-year-old boy became sick after eating salsa from Baja Fresh.

That didn't stop the Colemans from eating there.

"They've got really good salsa here, we eat here every time we come!" said Sherri Coleman.

"We gotta get this guy off the street," said South Lake Tahoe resident Steve Dehertel.

Locals and investigators hope the surveillance video helps catch whomever is repeatedly tainting the food at busy South Lake Tahoe businesses.

"These are felony crimes of contamination of public food sources," Williams said.

The Lake Tahoe Secret Witness is offering a $250 reward to anyone who can catch the suspect.

He's described as white, 5-foot-7-inches with a thin build.

Anyone with information is asked to call (530) 542-6100 or Secret Witness at (530) 541-6800

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