crime scene

A Mysterious Clam Bandit Is Still at Large

Police released this image of the alleged clam bandit. Photo: Stuart Westmorland/Getty Images

New Yorkers steal unusual things from their restaurants and grocers: $5,000 of ice cream during a sweltering summer day, whole pizza ovens, and, apparently, a bunch of raw shellfish. In fact, there’s a clam bandit, and he or she is still on the loose.

While running his daily deliveries for Island Creek Oysters on January 12, Matt Dickhaut discovered that the service elevator at Tribeca’s Odeon was out of commission. He was forced to deliver the restaurant’s order the long way, carrying mesh sacks of shellfish through the dining room. But as he frequently did, he left his van unlocked. When he arrived at his next destination, Mercer Kitchen, he discovered that a thief had made off with a hand truck and a box of shellfish worth $350.

That day, the clam bandit made off with a bag of 100-count neck clams, two 10-pound bags of mussels plus another loose bag of mussels, five pounds of razor clams, and 100 Wellfleet oysters. The sheer volume of stolen shellfish is surprising, since it’s not as if these things have a long shelf life. Speaking with the New York Times, Dickhaut got right to the point, asking, “Who the hell steal clams?”

The consensus opinion at Island Creek is that someone just seized the opportunity for a shellfish heist, but Dickhaut is convinced there’s a greater conspiracy at foot. As he tells it, a month before the robbery, he remembered a strange afternoon when “a couple of dudes” driving in a Jeep followed him around for almost three hours. They tailed him as he drove around downtown Manhattan, even as he sped through yellow lights. Noticing his tail, he snapped a photo of them — and they drove off, never to be seen again. But the real question on everyone’s mind is: When and where will the clam bandit strike next?

Mysterious Clam Bandit Still at Large