Twice in two days, at the same time, the same Lodi officer has arrested multiple people after responding to calls from the Lodi Avenue Rite Aid.
In each case, a man trying to buy cold medicine aroused the store manager's suspicions, lead to his arrest on a warrant, as well as new charges. Women accompanying both men were soon arrested, too.
And in both cases, police searched the cars and allegedly found a number of cold medicine pills containing pseudoephedrine, one of the key ingredients used to make methamphetamine.
The similarities did not go unnoticed by Officer Erika Urrea, who handled both cases, but she said they did not appear to be connected.
On Monday at 1:17 p.m., the manager of the store located at 520 W. Lodi Ave. called police after a man refused to show identification while buying Sudafed.
In an effort to fight methamphetamine production, California law now requires that cold medicines be placed behind store counters. Customers are limited in how much they may buy, and they have to show identification.
Urrea arrived as the man was leaving the store, and she soon learned that the man, 18-year-old Maurice Reed, had a warrant. Officers searched his white rental car and found cold medicine pills in the front of the car and under the trunk's carpet, Urrea said.
Police also arrested a 15-year-old girl, as well as 18-year-old Cassandra Williams and 22-year-old Kenneth Owens. Williams is from San Jose and the other three live in Palo Alto.
On Tuesday, Urrea was again working patrol when the Rite Aid store manager called police at 1:15 p.m. to report a suspicious man trying to buy cold medicine.
Urrea arrived, contacted the man and learned that, just as in the previous case, he had a warrant. She arrested Curtis Lewis, 28.
Officers searched his car and found four boxes of cold medicine in the trunk, as well as boxes in the car, Urrea said.
Also arrested were 45-year-old Michelle Gray and her mother, 63-year-old Charsey Gray. The younger Gray is on parole and her mother is on probation, Urrea said.
All three arrested Tuesday were from Stockton.
They will all ultimately wind up in court this week.