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In Oregon, police arrested a man who allegedly stole thousands of respirator masks used to combat COVID-19 that he was selling on Craigslist.
“The Portland Police Bureau said in a news release on Sunday that officers responded on March 6 to a theft report at The Rebuilding Center in Portland involving 20 to 25 cases of N95 respirator masks,” reports Fox News. “Each case had about 400 masks inside and the total loss was close to $2,500, according to police. Officials said there initially was no suspect information.”
The victim, a woman, later found the masks being sold on Craigslist. After setting up a meeting with the seller, she called the police, who arrested the suspect, 42-year-old Vladislav V. Drozdek, in a neighboring city.
Police recovered six cases of masks; the rest were initially thought to be missing. Upon further investigation over the weekend, police discovered another seven boxes stored inside a home. PPB Assistant Chief of Operations Mike Frome called the arrest “significant” because of the ongoing shortage of medical supplies, dramatically affecting hospital workers fighting the COVID-19 virus.
“This was a good example of interagency teamwork and cooperation, along with some helpful detective work by the victim,” Frome said in a statement. “This is even more significant during a time when these medical supplies are in such short supply.”
The masks have since been donated to the local hospitals.
Opportunists and criminals have been using the COVID-19 pandemic for self-advancement by either stealing needed supplies or buying them in bulk, so that they can turnaround later and “price gouge” needy consumers.
Over the weekend, Fox News also reported on a man in Arizona who stole COVID-19 test kits from a health clinic last week:
The man entered the El Rio Health Center in Tucson just before 8 p.m. as employees were getting ready to close, Tucson police said. He took 29 of the highly sought-after COVID-19 test kits and drove off in a reddish Dodge Charger or similar-style car.
The kits are “essentially useless” to the suspect because they require a lab with the proper equipment to test and produce the results, police said.
While the clinic was able to replace the stolen items, police said the suspect’s actions contributed to the health crisis by taking test kits out of the hands of nurses and doctors.
Earlier last week, a man “donated” over 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer that he had hoarded to sell on Amazon. The man was left with a massive stock after Amazon delisted him for overcharging customers for basic supplies.
“We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis and, in line with our long-standing policy, have recently blocked or removed hundreds of thousands of offers,” Amazon said in a statement. “We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”
The man, 36-year-old Matt Colvin, told The New York Times that he was selling the bottles anywhere between $8 and $70 before Amazon delisted the products. He is now being investigated for price gouging during a state of emergency.