Alleged oyster thief in Apalachiacola

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - In Apalachicola, oysters are a big part of the community.

One local Apalachicola oyster farming company believes someone stole their baby oysters from the bay. (WJHG/WECP)

“It’s good for the economy of our county," said Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith.

But now, staff with the Apalachicola Oyster Company fear their marine life isn't safe in the Bay.

“We think they may have been taken, hate to say that about, you know, anybody but that’s the only conclusion we can come up with after reviewing our documents," said Tammy Reese, the assistant manager at the Apalachicola Oyster Company.

Oyster company employees say they had 12 bags taken with oyster seed in them. They say the contents are worth a lot of clams.

“Should've had somewhere around 300,000 animals, and that would be, if we sold a seed, anywhere between $8,600 to $15,000 and if we grew them up to sell it would be... market value would've been $102,000," said Reese.

Now Franklin County Sheriff's Officials and the oyster company want answers.

“We plan on taking this to the full extent of the law," said Reese.

“This is the first time and we’re hoping the last time that there will be a theft because it could really impact a company that’s, you know, they’re providing jobs, they’re growing oysters, I mean we are the oyster capital of the world and we want to remain that way," said Sheriff Smith.

For now, staff with the Apalachicola Oyster Company say they're able to fill orders, but down the road things could be more difficult.

“It’s gonna have more of a long term effect on us," said Reese.

So the company is ramping up security where the oysters sit in the bay.

“We have since hired a guard or a couple of guards that will patrol continuously 24 hours a day," said Reese.

Later on, staff say they will put a complete security system in place so Apalachicola Oyster Company can help the area remain the oyster capital of the world.

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