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Associated Press

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - Cold medicine and drain cleaner may seem like innocent purchases, but police want retailers to know they and other common products are key ingredients for making methamphetamine.

The Campbell County Sheriff's Office is distributing posters among businesses listing the ingredients that people making the drug might buy in large quantities. The move followed the bust of one of the largest meth labs found in Campbell County.

Wal-Mart employees called police last month after becoming suspicious when two people bought large amounts of cold medicine and batteries.

"The tips can help us enormously," Sheriff Bill Pownall said. "This is a community problem, not just a law enforcement problem."

The posters instruct store employees to call police if they notice an increase in sales of certain items or if a number of people are frequenting the store to buy a product.

To some, the poster was old news. But others were surprised by it.

"I would have never thought of that before," said Cheryl Backes, an assistant manager at the Building Center.

The store is placing its poster near its sales counter.

"We just talked to a lot of employees about it, what to be aware of and what to do," Backes said.

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Thar's Feed and Ranch Supply also has a poster, but employees there have been aware of the problem for years.

"When strange people come in here and try to buy some of that stuff, we call the cops, get a license plate," employee Saunda Phillips said.

Though they liked the idea, some retailers admitted differentiating between legitimate and illegal purchases could be difficult.

"I don't know how many thousands of cans we sell of that stuff," Record Supply's John Produit said of brake cleaner, an ingredient on the poster. "It doesn't bother me to sell 10 or 12 cases at a time."

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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