50-year-old Ramineh Behbehanian was arrested Monday night after an observant Starbucks customer saw her sneak the tainted bottles from a green Starbucks bag into the refrigerated display case, right next to the non-poisoned orange juices.
The customer told an employee, and when Behbehanian overheard their conversation, she hurried out of the coffee shop. The employees then followed the woman into the parking lot and got her license plate number, according to Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer.
Employees immediately removed the bottles of orange juice from the refrigerator and examined them. They realized the seals had been broken and smelled "something toxic," Dwyer said.
"If it weren't for the actions of that customer, I believe we'd be talking about a homicide right now," Dwyer said.
The bottles were tested and determined to contain a potentially lethal amount of rubbing alcohol. Dwyer said that police don't know if Behbehanian has done this before or whether she plans to do it again, but that they "don't think there's any other danger out there now."
Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson said the company is continuing to cooperate with the police investigation. After the incident, the Starbucks location destroyed all remaining juice from the refrigerator. He said other nearby Starbucks were notified and told to check all their juice bottles to make sure none of the seals were broken.
No one attempted to purchase the tainted bottles, and Behbehanian's motive and targets -- the coffee chain itself or other customers -- are unclear.