Man wearing 'I have the Coronavirus' sign sprays Lysol on Walmart merchandise, causing $10K of damage: police

ByAlexis McAdams WLS logo
Thursday, February 6, 2020
'I have the Coronavirus': Man wearing sign sprays Lysol on merchandise at Walmart
The masked suspect wearing a handmade sign reading "Caution I have the Coronavirus" then sprayed Lysol on produce, clothing and health and beauty items, police said.

JOLIET, Ill. -- 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 Illinois Sunday, causing nearly $10,000 in damage.

Health officials all over the world are warning about the spread of a deadly strain of coronavirus. But what exactly is it?

"He was telling everyone the same thing, that he was protecting them from the virus," said Tony Prokes, customer.

Illinois 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.

Coronavirus: How it spreads

A virus is an organism that carries genetic information, causing infection and sometimes disease.

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," said Sgt. Chris Botzum, Joliet Police Department. "It's a lot of money."