Portable meth lab found in Walmart shoplifter's purse, police say

Nassau County Police examine the front of the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, after a temporary Wal-Mart worker died after a throng of eager shoppers broke down the doors and trampled him moments after the Long Island store opened early Friday for day-after-Thanksgiving bargain hunting, police said. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)
AP Photo, file
Missouri police arrested a female shoplifter at a Walmart (not shown) and found a portable meth lab in her purse
AP Graphic

(CBS/AP) ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Missouri police said Thursday that they arrested a 32-year-old female shoplifter at a Walmart store in St. Louis County and found a portable meth lab in her purse.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the female culprit shoplifted an item unrelated to meth-making, after which store security and police searched her purse and discovered a 20-ounce bottle containing methamphetamine. Police evacuated the Walmart store for about three hours.

Deputy Chief Dan Furrer with the Mehlville Fire Protection District told that the fire district and meth lab unit responded and seized the "shake and bake" lab without incident. The fire district responded as a precaution to police officers.

"It had the potential to be flammable or blow up at any time," St. Louis County Police Lt. Mark Cox told the Post-Dispatch. He said the trend of cooking small quantities of the drug for personal use is on the rise.

No one was reported injured and no harmful substances or fumes were discovered inside the store, which re-opened later that evening.

Police told the Post-Dispatch that the woman and a male companion were arrested. Their names and ages were not immediately released. Police also said they confiscated meth-making precursors - bottles of medicines, pills and chemicals - from the suspects' car in the Walmart parking lot.

Police told that theft and drug charges are pending.