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Man arrested in Mechanicsburg area case of tampering, returning items to stores
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Cumberland County

Man arrested in Mechanicsburg area case of tampering, returning items to stores


A Hampden Township man was arrested and arraigned late Wednesday night in connection with a case of tampering and returning items to Mechanicsburg area stores.

Robert Keith Burns, 58, was charged with recklessly endangering another person, theft by deception and criminal mischief-tampering with property after an investigation that started earlier this month in Silver Spring Township.

Burns was arraigned at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday by Magisterial District Judge Kathryn Silcox, who set bail at $50,000 cash, which he was unable to post. He remains in Cumberland County Prison, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 28.

The arrest comes after a warning this week from the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office regarding products that were purchased, tampered with and then returned to stores in Silver Spring and Hampden townships, including Giant Food Stores, Walmart, Wegmans and CVS Pharmacy. According to an affidavit of probable cause, two items were also returned to the Camp Hill Giant.

Silver Spring Township Police started investigating the case after a Giant customer contacted them about a toothpaste tube that did not match what they had purchased and seemed to have been filled with an unknown substance.

With the help of Giant Food Stores asset protection team, police were able to establish Burns as a suspect after he allegedly used his bonus card when returning the items. Through the bonus card information, police were able to track 24 returns from January to July at Giant alone, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

A search last week of his parents’ residence where he was living resulted in police finding numerous tampered and resealed items that appeared to be ready to be returned, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday by Silver Spring Township Police. The items included a tube of Crest toothpaste with a foamlike substance inside, a tube of Bengay with a similar foamlike substance, a Centrum Silver bottle containing oral capsules with different sizes and colors, a CVS brand lansoprazole bottle with various capsules and tablets, an Assured Allergy bottle with various capsules and tablets, and an unlabeled medicine bottle with various pills. The repackaged items were done in the same manner as the toothpaste that initially started the investigation, police said.

The affidavit said police also found cardboard labels in a plastic bag that appeared to be used as reconstructed product boxes, and a plastic tube containing a white cream substance that was consistent with a returned Loreal eye cream.

Police specifically asked Burns to identify the substances in the tampered products, and he refused to disclose the ingredients or material, according to court documents. Police said additional laboratory analysis is needed to identify the substances in the tampered items.

Of the affected retailers, Wegmans on Wednesday released details of one affected toothpaste product and said it has notified all customers of Sensodyne toothpaste who purchased it with their grocery rewards card.

CVS Pharmacy also released information saying they are “cooperating with the investigation” and “have removed Sensodyne from local store shelves as a matter of precaution.” The company also said it is reviewing its surveillance video.

CVS said it has not received any customer reports of tampered or replaced products.

Email Naomi Creason at or follow her on Twitter @SentinelCreason

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