Florida Thieves Make Off With 17,000 Oysters

Oysters with ice and lemon

Police in Florida are investigating a major crime: the theft of more than 17,000 oysters.

Officials with the Pensacola Bay Oyster Company say the theft was discovered this week when employees checked the company's oyster cages in East Bay -- and found them all empty. While the value of the stolen oysters -- about $10,000 -- is nothing to sneeze at, owner Donnie McMahon says his main concern is that the seafood might have fallen into the wrong hands. "In Florida, this industry is very highly regulated," McMahon says. "Everything has to be tagged, it should say what day it was harvested and have a sell-by date, the salinity of the water." They also need to be kept at certain temperatures, he adds. If protocol isn't followed, oysters can cause serious illness.

Portia Sapp, an investigator with the Florida Department of Agriculture, says she suspects the thieves bit off more oysters than they can chew. "It is going to be really difficult for someone to sell that many oysters," Sapp says. "It is a very unusual crime."

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Photos: Getty Images

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