San Rafael police arrested a Mill Valley man Wednesday on suspicion of stealing merchandise from four supermarkets and drug stores in Marin County.
Two of the thefts occurred in San Rafael, one in Mill Valley and one in Strawberry between May 31 and early July. The stolen merchandise was valued at $17,000, San Rafael and Mill Valley police said.
The Marin County Sheriff's Office and Mill Valley and San Rafael police departments investigated the thefts.
The stolen merchandise in San Rafael were items that could be resold, including $2,000 of Nicorette gum, according to San Rafael police Sgt. Lisa Holton.
Mill Valley police Lt. Lindsay Haynes said $5,000 of household and personal items were taken from a Safeway store in Mill Valley.
Police served a search warrant Wednesday at a residence on Meadow Drive in Mill Valley and arrested 27-year-old Hank Alexander Mulholland. He was booked in Marin County Jail on suspicion of two counts of burglary and one count of grand theft.
A quantity of suspected fentanyl was found in the Meadow Drive residence, Mill Valley police said, and officers and detectives put on protective equipment to prevent accidental exposure to the drug that is lethal even in minute doses.
Mill Valley police also found that a portion of the residence was being used as a child day care service, "Cozy Kid Care," without the knowledge, approval or proper permits of the city of Mill Valley.
Police contacted the California Department of Social Services and the Mill Valley code enforcement department, which led to the immediate closure of the business.
Mulholland was not running or in charge of the day care service that is now under investigation, Haynes said.
"It wasn’t part of my day care, my day care is fine everything is good," said owner of Cozy Kid Care, Mulholland's mother Betsy Mulholland.
Mulholland said this afternoon she has had a state license for the day care center for 30 years, and was unaware she needed a city license. She said she applied for a city license Wednesday.
She also said she had no idea about the alleged thefts, and her son was not living with her during the time they allegedly occurred.
"The people that were living in the house were never really friendly with us so it just seemed odd that someone running the daycare would be unfriendly with neighbors," said neighbor Alison Vinoly.
Photos from the daycare’s listing on Care.com show toddlers playing with toys and climbing a mini jungle gym.
"The whole place is sort of a mess and it just seemed an odd place to run a day care," Vinoly said.
Mulholland’s husband is defending said Betsy did have a state license but she was not aware that she needed to have a license with the City of Mill Valley to run the day care. He says both parents are sorry they let their son Hank stay with them.
"He was only here for a couple of weeks and unfortunately for everybody he was you know…" Mulholland said. "So now he has time to reflect on his bad choice."
Mulholland said her son was living in San Francisco and working as a restaurant server until April. He moved into her home about two and a half weeks ago, and he planned to move to Seattle, Mulholland said.
She said her son was living in a back room of her house, and the day care center is located in the front of the residence.
"There were no drugs in the house. They were found in a car down the street," Mulholland said.