PORTLAND, Ore. – Thousands of stolen respirator masks have been recovered in Oregon after they were discovered for sale on Craigslist amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to officials.
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.
Each case had about 400 masks inside and the total loss was close to $2,500, according to police. When the report was filed there was no suspect information.
However, the day after the theft, the victim found someone selling what she believed to be the stolen respirator masks on Craigslist.
As a result, the victim set up a meeting in the nearby city of Beaverton and contacted the Beaverton police, who arrived and arrested the suspect, 42-year-old Vladislav V. Drozdek.
“This was a good example of interagency teamwork and cooperation, along with some helpful detective work by the victim,” PPB Assistant Chief of Operations Mike Frome said in a statement. “This is even more significant during a time when these medical supplies are in such short supply.”
About six cases of masks were recovered, but the rest were still missing.
A follow-up investigation by both law enforcement agencies resulted in Portland police recovering at least seven additional boxes on Saturday that were stored inside a home, Fox News reported.
After the masks were returned to the victim, they were donated to local hospitals to help as medical staffs respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drozdek was booked into the Washington County Jail on a charge of theft in the first degree (by receiving).
Additional arrests and charges remain possible, according to police.
As the coronavirus pandemic has grown in the U.S., so have related crimes. In Tucson, Arizona a man stole dozens of coronavirus testing kits from a health clinic on Friday while posing as a delivery driver. He is still wanted.
STOLEN COVID-19 TEST KITS. The pictured suspect stole 29 unused test kits from the El Rio Health Clinic. Anyone w/information about this suspect is asked to call 88-CRIME. You can remain anonymous. Please see link for additional details/photos -> https://t.co/BqJntwqEcv pic.twitter.com/449RKh7d3M
— Tucson Police Dept (@Tucson_Police) March 22, 2020