‘Twisted prank:’ Woman purposely coughed on $35,000 worth of supermarket food, owner says

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HANOVER TOWNSHIP, Pa. (NEXSTAR) – The co-owner of a Pennsylvania grocery store chain wrote an exasperated Facebook post after he says a woman purposely coughed on at least $35,000 worth of food, which had to be thrown away Wednesday afternoon.

“Today was a very challenging day,” Joe Fasula, of Gerrity’s Supermarket, wrote. “At 2:20 p.m. today, I got a call from our Hanover Township store. The manager informed that a woman, who the police know to be a chronic problem in the community, came in to (sic) the store and proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case and grocery.”

The staff worked with the Hanover Township health inspector to clean the supermarket, disinfecting displays and throwing away product in every section she came in contact with.

Fasula said the total damage done in the “twisted prank” is estimated to be well over $35,000, and he expects his insurance rates to rise because of it.

“I’m 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.”

Fasula said the Gerrity’s staff “did the best they could to get the woman out of the store as fast as possible.”

Police were called and the case has been escalated to the district attorney’s office, according to Fasula. “They have assured me that they will be aggressively pursuing numerous charges,” he wrote.

Fasula doesn’t think that she has the novel coronavirus, but he hopes authorities “make every effort to see that she is tested.”

The only silver lining, he said, is that the incident gave employees a chance to test their emergency protocol.

“One thing is for sure, we will have the cleanest display and freshest produce anywhere in northeast PA,” Fasula wrote.

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