A woman who intentionally coughed on almost US$58,000 worth of food in a supermarket for a joke has been hit with terrorism charges.
The supermarket described the incident as a "very twisted prank" and local police have now charged the woman with felony terrorism threats, threatening to use a biological agent and criminal mischief over the coughing stunt.
The 35-year-old Pennsylvania woman visited the small Gerrity's Supermarket in the Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, in the US on Wednesday afternoon. According to a post by the store's owner, the woman, "came in to the store and proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case and grocery".
The store's co-owner Joe Fasula, told the NY Post, that the woman is known by police to be a problem throughout their local community.
Authorities do not believe the woman is infected with Covid-19, but will "make every effort" to get her tested, Fasula told the publication.
"While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and wellbeing of our customers. We had no choice but to throw out all product she came in contact with," Fasula said.
They deployed 15 staff working in the store at the time to quickly discard everything she'd come into contact with and coughed on, throwing it out, before deep cleaning the store.
According to Fasula, the losses totalled over The losses totalled well over US$58,802.
The 35-year-old woman has now been arrested and charged with felony counts of terrorist threats, threats to use a biological agent and criminal mischief the Hanover police department said in a press release.
In addition to the felony charges, the woman has also been charged with misdemeanour offences of criminal attempt to commit retail theft and disorderly conduct.
Her bail has been set at $84,074 and she will also face a preliminary hearing on April 8.