Two police officers smelled a rat Monday afternoon when they were eating lunch at an Upper Darby pizza place and watched the owner of a competing pizza restaurant walk into the shop carrying a suspicious bag into the restaurant’s bathroom.
After the man left, the owner of Verona Pizza on West Chester Pike discovered footprints on the toilet in the bathroom and a bag tucked into the ceiling tiles, police say.
Thinking the bag contained drugs, the owner turned the bag over to the officers who were in the restaurant at the time. They found something white -- but it wasn’t drugs.
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"I've never seen mice used as a criminal tool," Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said.
But, 47-year-old Galiatsatos didn’t stop there with his hairy scheme.
Galiatsatos, whose pizza place is also on West Chester Pike, walked from Verona Pizza to Uncle Nick’s Pizza across the street and dumped another bag into a garbage can inside that pizza shop, according to Chitwood.
Police discovered that the bag Galiatsatos dumped into Uncle Nick’s garbage contained five living mice and one dead mouse.
Galiatsatos was arrested on charges of criminal mischief, harassment, and animal cruelty. He had no comment after appearing in court Tuesday morning.
The mice were all turned over to local animal control.
Police say the motive behind the mice dropping may be the fact that Nina’s Bella Pizzeria has only been open for a short period of time and may not be doing well.
"We believe that he was trying to put the competitive pizza places out of business," Chitwood said.
But Galiatsatos is also dealing with bigger personal issues that could have played a role in his actions, a family member said.
On Tuesday Galiatsatos' former employee Brittany Rein and her father took over control of Nina's Bella and she assures customers that they have no mice.