The Patchogue King Kullen is among several grocery stores that were victimized by a series of robberies in which a total of $2,400 worth of frozen shrimp were stolen, Suffolk County Police told Patch on Tuesday.
Police said Joseph Elardo, 34, Sharmane Cromer, 34, James Donnellan, 33, and Nicole Johnson, 22, all Calverton residents, were arrested and charged with 22 counts of petit larceny, two counts of attempted larcey, two counts of possession of a hypodermic needle and one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Police said that the suspects were allegedly selling the frozen shrimp to a local Chinese restaurant to support drug habits. A search warrant was executed at the Tai Yu Chinese Restaurant in Mastic Beach on Jan. 31. The restaurant’s owner, Xue Chai Li, 34 of Mastic Beach, was arrested and charged with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree.
In addition to the Patchogue King Kullen, police said frozen shrimp was also stolen from grocery stores in Shirley and Manorville.
Suffolk County Department of Health members assisted with the search warrant, citing the establishment with a Sanitary Code Violation for an unapproved source of authorized food.
Elardo, Cromer, Donnellan and Johnson were arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip. Li will be arraigned at the same court at a later date.
Update 11:09 a.m.: Tony Femminella, vice president of store operations at King Kullen, told Patch that the store was able to help SCPD by providing video evidence of the shrimp theft.
"The store on a few occasions was absolutely hit by these shrimp thieves," Femminella said. "On one occasion we were able to get a plate number and we had very good video."
Femminella said the store got their evidence to the police, who followed up by making the arrests.