$10K reward offered in Apalachicola oyster heist
APALACHICOLA, Fla. (WCTV) - A budding oyster company in Apalachicola is searching for answers after a recent string of thefts worth thousands of dollars.
The thefts, which occurred over a period of several days this month, involved ready-to-eat oysters in the Bay and oyster seed.
The Apalachicola Oyster Company is just a few years old, and Farm Manager Jimmy Lashley said this is a major setback.
“A young business like this, we can’t survive very long taking hits like we’re taking,” he said.
While Sheriff A.J. Smith said the stolen oysters total “multiple thousands of dollars,” Lashley said the oyster seed alone is worth possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Sheriff Smith said his agency has no suspects in the case and hopes someone in the public has helpful information.
“If they see somebody with oysters who maybe has no reason to have them, or they have multiple bags...that could be another clue,” he said.
Stolen merchandise from an aquaculture company in Franklin County is unprecedented, the sheriff said.
“This is a new industry, so we’re having to go about learning new investigative techniques, and we’re using some old investigative techniques.”
FCSO is getting assistance from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Ag department.
Sheriff Smith wouldn’t comment on any surveillance video or security measures in place at the company’s hatchery. FCSO is looking into reports of missing oyster cages in Alligator Harbor to see if there’s a connection.
While storms can play havoc with oyster farms in the water, Lashley said the amount missing couldn’t have been Mother Nature’s doing.
Lashley is just hoping for justice. “I think eventually we’re going to catch them.”
The company is offering a $10,000 reward for someone who offers information leading to an arrest. Contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office with any tips.
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