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Ice-cream licking copycat arrested for attempting the viral prank

A Louisiana man was arrested after licking ice cream in a grocery store — even though he went back to pay for it.
Assumption Parrish Sheriff's Office/Keller Public Safety

A Louisiana man was recently arrested for attempting to replicate the now-viral video of a young woman licking a quart of ice cream — even though he eventually paid for the tub he tainted.

On Saturday, Lenise Martin III, 36, made a video of himself licking a carton of Blue Bell ice cream in a supermarket in Assumption Parish, Louisiana. According to Lonny Cavalier, head of the city's public information department, store cameras also caught him in the act.

After Martin left the store, police were immediately called to the scene. But the story took a surprising turn after authorities apprehended the suspect.

Lenise Martin III was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and posting of criminal activity for notoriety and publicity.
Lenise Martin III was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and posting of criminal activity for notoriety and publicity.Assumption Parrish Sheriff's Office

"He [Martin] was on video, and he videoed himself as well, taking a container of Blue Bell ice cream," said Cavalier. "He opened it, he licked the top, stuck his fingers in it, and then put the container of ice cream back on the shelf."

However, once Martin was called back to the store, he was able to prove that he had in fact purchased the ice cream seen in the video. The full video posted on Facebook shows Martin taking the carton out back out of the freezer again.

But even though Martin didn't necessarily put anyone else at risk, the police department is taking the issue seriously and believes that the video was a misguided attempt at notoriety.

"Based on the receipt and the fact that we could not locate another container that had been tampered with, we believe, at the end of the day, that he purchased the container," Cavalier said.

Despite being able to prove that he'd purchased the ice cream, Martin was still charged on counts of unlawful posting of criminal activity for notoriety and publicity, as well as criminal mischief. He was then transported to the Assumption Parish jail.

So copycats, beware: Trying to achieve internet fame isn't always harmless and it may carry serious consequences.

While that particular county has not seen any other ice cream-licking copycats, Cavalier said that authorities still want to "absolutely discourage" similar behavior.

"We will deal harshly with any [copycats] that we do catch," he told TODAY. "We discourage it, because it is a health hazard, and it does alarm the public when people see things like this.

"Unfortunately, you do have people out there that'll lower themselves to that point, and it alarms the public and is something we must deal with harshly."

The original ice-cream licker seen in the first video, who has been identified but has not been publicly named because she is a minor, is also facing harsh penalties. The teenager, who is from Texas, was seen licking a quart of Blue Bell's Tin Roof ice cream and returning it to a Walmart freezer.

The case has been turned over to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and remains under investigation.

Walmart, where the original video was filmed, told TODAY that it is committed to keeping its customers safe.

“We are committed to product safety and we take product tampering seriously," a representative said via email. "We will work closely with law enforcement, particularly through the use of store surveillance footage, to assist in identifying, apprehending and prosecuting anyone who senselessly tampers with products in our stores.”

While the legal system is doing its part to ensure those committing these bizarre crimes face penalties, some stores are taking precautionary steps to ensure potential pranksters don't have a chance to lick (or touch or bite ... or whatever) food meant for public consumption.

"The only Blue Bell Ice Cream being licked here in Keller this holiday weekend will be the kind you've already purchased," the Keller Public Safety department posted on Facebook ahead of the Fourth of July. The post was accompanied by a photo of two officers guarding a case of ice cream at a Tom Thumb Grocery store in Keller, Texas.

"Cpl. Clark and Officer Bryans are seeing to that. #NotOnOurWatch."

Blue Bell Creameries said it is also taking the tampering very seriously.

"The safety of our ice cream is our highest priority, and we work hard to maintain the highest level of confidence in our customers," the Texas-based company said in a statement to TODAY. "We view the tampering of our products very seriously.

"Our role is to work with local retailers, and we encourage people to alert their local law enforcement if they are aware of someone tampering with any food item in the grocery store."

The company has yet to announce specific plans on how it will work with grocers to ensure its ice cream containers, which do not come with a plastic seal, are not tampered with in stores.