In the Long Island town of Coram, New York, residents awoke one day to find several oddly-placed pen dispensers cemented into the ground near public buildings. That alone is unusual, considering the relatively low public demand for additional pens on public "right of ways," and near apartment complexes. But the pen dispensers had an even stranger quality: if customers put in two dollars, instead of a new pen, they would receive a crack pipe.
Suffolk County officials say they are now investigating the vending machines, which they received numerous complaints about:
it is not illegal to sell the pens and it is not illegal to sell a pipe, but they are considered drug paraphernalia and they were being dispensed from a machine that was installed illegally per town code.
Jack Krieger, Communications Director for the Town of Brookhaven, explained the dispensers' tech:
They were actually repurposed tampon dispensers.
Krieger has also commented that authorities would like the public's help identifying who set up the vending machines, saying "no fine amount has been determined for violating the town code," since the circumstances surrounding the devices are unclear.
Twitter was trying not to laugh at the brazen nature of this crime:
Some people thought the pipe dispensers served a valuable, though regrettable, purpose:
But the dispensers being labelled "pens" made the entire situation too surreal for many people to take seriously:
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine issued a statement saying:
We are working with the Suffolk County Police Department to identify more locations and will cooperate fully to find those responsible and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
The moral of this story? Don't set up crack pipe vending machines. But if you absolutely must, don't label them "pens."