PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The Pensacola Bay Oyster Company has an oyster thief on its hands.
On Wednesday, the oyster cultivator and wholesaler reported that 17,000 oysters had been stolen from bags at its East Bay oyster farm.
Thursday, Thomas Derbes, Pensacola Bay Oyster Company farm/seed manager first told News 5 — it’s worse than he thought.
“We now believe there was somewhere between 68 to 75 bags taken from the farm,” Derbes said. “This is much more than we thought.”
Derbes said those 68 to 75 bags contained 30,000 oysters, which is about a $20,000 loss for the Pensacola company.
Oysters take several months to grow, which means the company will have to take the loss. Derbes is confident he won’t see the oysters again.
“Luckily, we have a surplus of oysters right now,” he said.
The company is offering up a reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest or a conviction of those involved in the theft.
“I wasn’t even mad to begin with. I was just more dumbfounded,” Derbes said. “Once I started to think about it, I’ve gotten a little more angry. You’re messing with somebody’s livelihood. This is something my boss has been working on for years now.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, is investigating the theft.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.