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A man law enforcement officials say tampered with and then returned products to several Mechanicsburg-area stores did so for at least several months, and perhaps even longer, district attorney Skip Ebert said Friday. 

A woman who used to work at a local retail store recently told law enforcement she remembered the suspect, Robert Keith Burns, repeatedly purchasing and returning items from the store a year ago, according to Ebert. Ebert said he has not confirmed that incident, but other incidents that have been confirmed involving Burns go back at least several months. 

According to the district attorney's office, Burns purchased numerous items, including toothpaste and other health and beauty items, tampered with them, repackaged and resealed them and then returned them. The investigation began when a Giant customer contacted Silver Spring Township Police about a toothpaste tube that did not match what had been purchased and seemed to contain an unknown substance. 

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Law enforcement officials have said there have been no reports of members of the public being sickened by the tampered products. However, Ebert said Friday that officials still do not know what substance was put into the tampered items. An analysis will require comparing what was in the tube of toothpaste to the ingredients in normal toothpaste, a task that "could take a while," he said. 

Burns, 58, of Mechanicsburg, was arrested Wednesday evening on charges of recklessly endangering another person, theft by deception and criminal mischief. He was unable to post $50,000 bail and is confined to Cumberland County Prison. 

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Daniel Walmer covers public safety for The Sentinel. You can reach him by email at dwalmer@cumberlink.com or by phone at 717-218-0021.