Oyster theft case cracked

Jack London popularized the phenomenon known as Oyster Piracy in his early writings about life on San Francisco Bay at the turn of the 20th century, and the term has always conjured up some romantic vision of stealthy clammers plundering an oyster bed with muffled oars under the darkness of a new moon. Sadly, the practice has hit Cape Cod’s commercial oyster farms from the Marstons Mills River across to the northside of the Cape from Barnstable to Dennis. The total losses are estimated at $40,000, rewards have been posted, stakeouts and security cameras have yielded nothing, but according to the Cape Cod Times, a culprit has been identified and being reviewed by a grand jury.

“Police say they know who stole more than $40,000 in oysters and equipment from beds in East Dennis and Barnstable last summer, but they’re not quite ready to publicly name the culprit.

Barnstable police Lt. Sean Balcom, who heads the Barnstable Street Crime Unit, called the anticipated end of the five-month investigation by multiple public safety agencies “the result of police work and the rewards” that were offered. The street crime unit was tipped to the identity of the poacher by one of its informants, Balcom said.”

Anyone who has ordered a plate of oysters in a restaurant knows how much these things sell for. While I don’t know what the market price is, I wonder who bought the “hot” clams. Is there a “clam fence” somewhere on the Cape? Whoever ripped off the oysters from the Mills River was selling pretty nasty clams that usually get relayed to cleaner water before they are safe to eat. A little hepatitis or vibro anyone?

Cape Cod Times article

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

3 thoughts on “Oyster theft case cracked”

  1. Paralytic shellfish poisoning is red tide which the state in some spots tracks very aggressively and yet in other areas sometimes very poorly. The first bad sign that you might be getting paralysis from your shellfish would be a tingling sensation, maybe in your extremities. Try to stay alert for that please.

    That said, one time I accidentally dug up a bunch of softshell clams from a state diagnosed redtide outbreak area (the area was not posted as closed until after I had dug them). Then I “accidentally” cooked and ate them. Guess what? No tingling, no breathing paralysis, no illness nor death. Still kicking, lol… Be aware however that the state will close areas from red tide due to the outbreak crossing a certain low threshold. Not all closures are equal. The low thresholds may or may not be healthy but as the outbreak grows, the higher thresholds are probably quite dangerous.

    Vibrio is a problem which up until a couple of years ago had no regulations that I know of.

    Thanks for another interesting shellfish take David. Always enjoyed your slant but wasn’t until recent that I realized how high up in the publishing sector you were and rubbing shoulders with the iconic Forbes’, Lol… Look me up if you ever get to the outer cape, I’ll show you some spots –

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