JOLIET, Illinois (WLS) — Police are seeking to identify a young man who was caught on cell phone camera wearing a yellow medical mask and sign that said “I have the Coronavirus” as he sprayed disinfectant on items at a Walmart in Joliet, Illinois Sunday, causing nearly $10,000 in damage.
“He was telling everyone the same thing, that he was protecting them from the virus,” customer Tony Prokes said.
Joliet police said two men in their 20s walked into the store in the 1400-block of Route 59 and one of them put on a yellow surgical mask.
That man was also wearing a handmade sign on his back that read “Caution I have the Coronavirus.” Police said he then began spraying a substance later determined to be Lysol on produce, clothing and health and beauty items.
The prank was meant to scare people about the novel coronavirus that has killed hundreds in China and infected thousands before spreading to other countries, including the U.S.
“CAUTION: I HAVE THE CARONAVIRUS” – 2 young men now facing felony charges after they pulled a Coronavirus “prank” inside of a Joliet Walmart. pic.twitter.com/p4Ph8CCA2F
— Alexis McAdams ABC-7 (@AlexisMcAdamsTV) February 4, 2020
Prokes was shopping at the Walmart Sunday when he saw the suspect walking around the store spraying Lysol. He kept telling people he was trying to disinfect the area.
“He was spraying all the produce with Lysol,” Prokes said.
The young man is now facing felony charges. The suspects left the scene in a white 2003 GMC Yukon registered to Oswego, police said.
The store had to be professionally cleaned and dozens of items were thrown out. Walmart estimated the loss of produce at more than $7,300, with an additional cleanup cost of more than $2,400, police said.
“When you are looking at the damage to property, you are looking at more than $7,000 in damage,” Joliet Police Department Sgt. Chris Botzum said. “It’s a lot of money.”