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Woman who coughed on $35,000 in groceries tried to steal a 12-pack of beer on her way out, police say


The woman charged with intentionally contaminating produce, meat and merchandise at a Luzerne County supermarket Wednesday tried to steal a 12-pack of beer as she was being ordered to leave the store by employees, police say.

Store owners said they had to throw out “well over $35,000” in groceries.

On Thursday, Hanover Township police arrested Margaret Cirko, 35, of Hanover Township. Police were called to Gerrity's Supermarket, 2280 Sans Souci Parkway, after Cirko entered the store making verbal threats that she was sick while intentionally coughing and spitting saliva and bile on produce, meat and merchandise, according to a Facebook post by the police department.

She continued this behavior in several aisles before attempting to steal a 12-pack of beer as she was being ordered to leave, the post said.

She is charged with two felony counts of terrorist threats, one felony count of threats to use a “biological agent” and one felony count of criminal mischief, in addition to misdemeanor counts of criminal attempt to commit retail theft and disorderly conduct.

She was arraigned with bail set at $50,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 8.

Cirko was transported and lodged at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of bail.

In a Facebook post Thursday, Gerrity’s co-owner Joe Fasula stated: “It’s been an eventful two days for our family business. I am humbled by the outpouring of support that our company and our team have received.”

In a separate post, he said the produce department was fully stocked by 2 p.m. Thursday.