As shoppers stock up on critical supplies amid concerns of a coronavirus outbreak, law enforcement responded to a Costco in Chino Hills Thursday morning after a run on bottled water left some customers irritated, authorities said.
Deputies were dispatched to the Costco located at 13111 Peyton Dr., according to Cindy Bachman of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. She said people there were upset after the store again ran out of water.
“After speaking with Costco staff and checking with customers, deputies determined no crime occurred,” Bachman told the Los Angeles Times. “No other issues have been reported today.”
Patrol vehicles from the Sheriff’s Department and Chino Hills Police Department could be seen parked outside the store just after 11 a.m., Sky5 aerial video showed.
Many retailers in the U.S. have been seeing larger than usual crowds recently, as consumers prepare for the spread of COVID-19 throughout the U.S. by purchasing supplies.
Shoppers have been stocking up on bottled water, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, toilet paper, face masks and other items, emptying shelves at Costco and other big-box retailers across the country in a spate of apparent “panic buying.”
“It’s busier than Christmas,” a manager at the Costco in Lakewood told the Orange County Register on Monday. “Yesterday the lines were all the way to the alcohol section.”
While the store is traditionally busier on weekends, large crowds continued to flock to Costcos during the week.
A long line of shoppers was also visible outside the one in Marina del Rey before the store opened Thursday morning, according to video posted by Facebook user Magdeline Aguayo.
“823 people waiting to enter Costco this morning!!!” she wrote in the post. “Limit on water, paper towels & TP.. 3 limit TOTAL. so one of each most people are grabbing.”
Another video from the Costco in Van Nuys also captured a chaotic scene inside the store as shoppers lined up to grab cases of water.
The footage, posted on Thursday by Jino Cabrera, showed an extremely long line that extended all the way outside the entrance and snaked around the building.
One shopper outside the Fullerton Costco told KTLA she was there to get toilet paper and bottled water, but the store was out of both.
“They don’t know when they’re going to restock,” she said.
News of various product shortages in California prompted state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to issue a price gouging alert on Wednesday.
“Price gouging restrictions have gone into effect statewide,” Becerra said at a news conference. “These price gouging restrictions make it illegal for businesses to raise the prices of most goods and services by more than 10%. Those goods and services include — but aren’t limited to — emergency supplies, medicine and medical supplies, food and drink.”
Those who violate the law could face a year in jail and/or an up to $10,000 fine.