A woman who coughed on $35,000 worth of produce, meat and other fresh foods at a supermarket in Pennsylvania has been charged, the Hanover Police Department said in a statement this week.
Margaret Cirko, 35, was charged with four felonies, including two felony counts of terrorist threats, one felony count of threats to use a "biological agent" and one felony count of criminal mischief. She also faces misdemeanor counts of criminal attempt to commit retail theft and disorderly conduct.
According to a post from the grocery store's co-owner, Joe Fasula, Cirko entered the Gerrity's Supermarket on Wednesday and "proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case and grocery.
"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," Fasula wrote on the store's Facebook page. "We had no choice but to throw out all product 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."
Cirko also underwent a mental health evaluation on Wednesday. There's no word on whether she had the coronavirus, but police say they are working to get her tested.
"Police were called to the business after Cirko entered the store making verbal threats that she was sick while intentionally coughing and spitting saliva/bile on produce/meat/merchandise," the department wrote in a statement about the woman's arrest. "Cirko continued this behavior in several aisles before attempting to steal a 12 pack of beer as she was being ordered to leave the store by employees,"
"I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food," Fasula wrote. "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 a slightly happier update posted on Thursday, Fasula said their produce department was "fully stocked" and "back to normal."
"Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to get everything back to normal. I’ve included pictures of the final result below. Outstanding job!!!"