Portland Man steals N95 medical-grade masks, tries to flip them on Craigslist. His ‘buyer’ turned out to be police

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PORTLAND, OR – With the recent rise of the pandemic affecting the world, things one would never consider at risk for theft are now being targeted.

In this case, several boxes of medical-grade protective respirators, called N95 masks, were stolen. Luckily, they were later recovered.

Police in Oregon noted that thousands of these medical-grade masks were recovered, after approximately 20 cases of them were stolen on March 6th.

The estimated value of these masks was nearly $2,500.

Portland Man steals N95 medical-grade masks, tries to flip them on Craigslist. His 'buyer' turned out to be police
Vladislav V. Drozdek – Portland Police Bureau

Yet, with the secondary market vying to get their hands on supplies such as the above, who knows how much the alleged burglar could’ve made.

The theft was reported by The Rebuilding Center, according to the Portland Police Bureau.

The group, which functions as a construction and sustainability nonprofit, had noticed that a curious ad was placed on Craigslist one day after the masks were stolen from the center.

That ad allegedly was featuring the very boxes removed from their office. Staff from The Rebuilding Center had contacted police regarding the suspicious advertisement online, and a meeting was arranged with the seller.

Police came into contact with the seller, 42-year-old Vladislav V. Drozdek. He was arrested under charges of first-degree theft, with police having recovered six cases of the N95 masks during the bust.

Police also recovered an additional seven cases on March 21st inside of a home. Authorities indicated that the newly recovered cases could result in additional arrests and charges.

When the masks were returned to the rightful owners, The Rebuilding Center donated the once-pilfered masks to local area hospitals due to the massive shortage healthcare workers are experience with simple PPE.

Happily, this petty theft was resolved and turned into an act of kindness by the victims involved. 

As mentioned earlier, the types of burglaries we’re seeing with COVID-19 in play has spawned targeted thefts the likes of which were never an issue before. 

Police in Tucson, Arizona are actively searching for a male suspect who they say stole several testing kits for COVID-19 from a local health center.

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With the concerns growing over COVID-19, and people looking to get tested at registered sites, the last thing we need is black market circulation of testing to the highest bidder.

News of the theft was released via social media by the Tucson Police Department’s Facebook page.

The TPD informed the public to not purchase anyone attempting to sell them a COVID-19 testing kit, as they’re basically unusable:

“The stolen test kits are [essentially] useless to the suspect who stole them. These kits can only be tested in a private lab equipped with the proper tools for testing and reading results.”

According to the release, the suspect entered the El Rio Health Center located at 839 W. Congress Street just before 8:00 p.m. on March 20th. While posing as some kind of a delivery driver, the suspect was able to acquire 29 of the testing kits from the site.

Employees from the facility didn’t realize the shortage until the morning of March 21st, since the time the burglary occurred the facility was getting ready to close for the evening.

While the 29 test kits have been “replaced,” the TPD notes that in reality this has still robbed the community of those very tests pilfered:

“Thankfully, the stolen kits have already been replaced, so it has not affected the clinic’s testing abilities at this time. It has however taken 29 testing kits out of the medical field for needed testing in the future.”

The department also reiterated that under no circumstance should someone purchase a COVID-19 kit from anyone claiming to have them for sale. In the words of the TPD, “it is a scam,” as there’s no possible way for anyone to conduct a home test for COVID-19.

The TPD provided the following description about the suspect at large:

“The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his 30’s, approximately 5’9 to 5’11 with a large build. He has a full dark colored beard with some graying. Surveillance video shows the suspect leaving in what appears to be a reddish colored Dodge Charger or similar style vehicle.”

It’s likely safe to say that if and when police apprehend this man, he’s going to be in a world of trouble, as I’m sure there are more creative charges that can be whipped up just outside of burglary.

While many of people are concerned over the effects of COVID-19, this is precisely the last thing communities and testing sites need to be worried about.

The latest update on the case, according to the TPD as of March 22nd, is that the suspect has been identified.

While there was no arrest yet announced by the department, they expressed enormous accoldaes to everyone that shared the story online: 

“The individual in the photographs HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED. Detectives are continuing their investigation and additional information will be released as it becomes available. Thank you to everyone who assisted with sharing this post and to those who provided timely information to our department.”

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