SANDWICH, Mass. — Officials in a Massachusetts town say about 4,000 immature oysters were stolen from a local creek, hindering a fledgling Cape Cod aquaculture program.

The Cape Cod Times reports that Sandwich town officials realized the oysters were missing from Mill Creek when they went to check the floating cages near Sandwich Boardwalk earlier this month.

Sandwich Natural Resources Director, David DeConto, says the oysters weren’t mature enough to meet the size requirements for sale, so it’s unclear why they were taken.

It takes two to three years for oysters to mature.

Sandwich had its first oyster harvest for licensed shellfisherman in January after developing the program over several years.

Officials say there may be no harvest this year because of the theft.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police are investigating.

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