Woman Charged After Allegedly Claiming To Have Coronavirus And Coughing On Groceries
Police were called to Gerrity's Supermarket in Pennsylvania at around 2.30pm on Wednesday following reports that a woman was deliberately coughing and spitting on food while yelling 'I have the virus, now you're all going to sick'.
The woman also allegedly attempted to steal a crate of beer as she was being asked to leave the store by employees.
Margaret Cirko, 35, was arrested by Hanover Township Police Department and has been charged with two felony counts of terrorist threats, one felony count of threats to use a 'biological agent' and one felony count of criminal mischief, as well as misdemeanour counts of retail theft and disorderly conduct.
In a post on Facebook, Joe Fasula, co-owner of the supermarket, said the 'very twisted prank' had forced them to throw out more than $35,000 (£28,294) worth of food.
He said: "While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a￼ very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers. We ￼had no choice but to throw out all of the products she came in contact with.
"Working closely with the Hanover Township health inspector, we identified every area that she was in, we disposed of the product and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected everything.
"Although we have not yet quantified the total loss,￼ we estimate the value to be well over $35,000. We are checking to see if our insurance company will cover it, but even if they do, our rates will surely go up next year.
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"I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food. While it is always a shame when food is wasted, in these times when so many people are worried about the security of our food supply, it is even more disturbing."
In the days since, Fasula said he had been 'humbled' by the support of his staff and the community.
Speaking to WIS News, he said: "I spend most of my time walking around, yelling at them to go home, just to get them some time off. But as soon as this happened yesterday, they all jumped in. They did everything they possibly could to get the product out and then get the case emptied, get the case cleaned, and then cleaned up and sanitised.
"I am humbled by the outpouring of support that our company and our team have received."
Police said they would test Cirko for Covid-19.
Cirko is being held at Luzerne County Prison with bail set at $50,000 (£40,440) ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled for 8 April.
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Featured Image Credit: Hanover Township Police Department