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.
3 crack pipe vending machines have been found on Long Island https://t.co/hf9a41Hbb8— NowThis (@NowThis)1536718380.0
Jack Krieger, Communications Director for the Town of Brookhaven, explained the dispensers' tech:
They were actually repurposed tampon dispensers.
@VICE Wait till they roll out the bath salts spas with pez opioid dispensers.— Leeko (@Leeko)1536754737.0
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:
@CNN I know I shouldn’t find this funny but... https://t.co/nOUj4WlIFT— EsquireT7 (@EsquireT7)1536701842.0
@CNN https://t.co/Q4rHSsATrC— Mike (@Mike)1536701541.0
Some people thought the pipe dispensers served a valuable, though regrettable, purpose:
@nowthisnews Issuing new crack pipes is a form of #HarmReduction because users can get sores, burns, or cuts on the… https://t.co/C3ZOQHwlMF— Sanho Tree (@Sanho Tree)1536771398.0
@nowthisnews hey! this is a great way to stop the spread of diseases like hepatitis that a lot of addicts and homel… https://t.co/7LRzViEdL9— chef petitesboules (@chef petitesboules)1536721928.0
@nowthisnews genius, and stopping the spread of cold sores— longhair funnyguy (@longhair funnyguy)1536720672.0
But the dispensers being labelled "pens" made the entire situation too surreal for many people to take seriously:
@Bossip Okayyy on the next episode of America is not a real place 😂💀— Shakeel Lovelace (@Shakeel Lovelace)1536673817.0
Nah...... CRACK PIPE VENDING MACHINES!? drug dealers in Long Island on BEAST MODE 😂🤔🤫 https://t.co/cM9gX6oiPa— KING MYERS (@KING MYERS)1536783744.0
@NYDailyNews WTF🤦🏿♂️— Russell Glass (@Russell Glass)1536805323.0
@abc13houston Is this a joke? It has to be! Surely this isn't real.— Katie French (@Katie French)1536675733.0
Really surprised that moberly doesn't have one of those crack pipe vending machines— Dylan P 🤙🍻 (@Dylan P 🤙🍻)1536788395.0
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."