Suffolk County police arrested four people last week for allegedly stealing more than $2,000 worth of shrimp to support their drug habit, authorities said.
Police charged Joseph Elardo, 34, Sharmane Cromer, 34, James Donnellan, 33, and 22-year-old Nicole Johnson, all of Calverton, with 22 counts of petit larceny among other charges.
Seventh Precinct officers first discovered the unusual pattern of thefts during a petit larceny investigation, police said, adding that stolen shrimp is valued at $2,400. The shrimps were stolen from supermarkets located in the Fifth and Seventh Precincts, police said.
On Jan. 30, “Officers identified and pulled over the suspect’s vehicle with proceeds inside and arrested four people in the car,” police said in a news release.
During the investigation, police discovered that the group was allegedly selling the frozen shrimp at local Chinese restaurants to support their drug habit, police said.
Police also executed a search warrant on Jan. 31 at Tai Yu Chinese Restaurant in Mastic Beach and charged the owner, 34-year-old Xue Chai Li, with criminal possession of stolen property.
The Suffolk County Department of Health cited the restaurant with a sanitary code violation for an unapproved source of authorized food, police said.
Elardo, Cromer, Donnellan and Johnson were also charged with attempted larceny, possession of a hypodermic needle and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
The four alleged shrimp thieves were arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip. Li will appear at a later date.