ADAMS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – Adams Township Police originally out to catch a litterer ended up making a DUI arrest.
But it took some time and old-fashioned police work to finally identify the suspect.
The police had a real puzzle on their hands. Workers with the Township road department kept finding bags full of empty vanilla extract bottles with an alcohol content of 35 percent or more. So they put a trail camera in the woods near Myoma and Carriage Hill roads.
“In the same day, we got pictures of the subject throwing litter out, which was vanilla extract bottles,” Adams Township assistant chief Robert Scanlon said.
From the pictures, police got a description of an SUV and the license plate number. The next step was catching the driver.
“I believe the sergeant was out one day, and he observed the car,” Scanlon said. “He made a traffic stop and subsequently arrested the woman for DUI.”
The driver is identified as 61-year-old Mary Ranker from Cranberry. Police say Ranker said she had two vanillas, about seventy proof alcohol that she was drinking from an eight-ounce bottle. She also had five more two-ounce bottles in her car.
Greg Betant lives nearby. He says empty bottles have been dumped there for years.
“I’ve complained about it to the police, and I usually get a large garbage bag and go down every year and pick up,” he said. “The most I picked up at one time was 110.”
He couldn’t believe that a 61-year-old woman was drinking vanilla extract.
“I thought kids that could not buy alcohol [did that], I didn’t think a 61-year-old woman [would],” Betant said. “That’s amazing.”
Ranker’s blood alcohol level was 0.128 percent. She’s charged with DUI and littering.
Police say Ranker is a recovering alcoholic who felt more comfortable buying vanilla extract from the supermarket than going to the liquor store.
According to the FDA, “In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume…”