Rotten Apple: ‘Despicable’ thieves steal 400 ballistic vests destined for Ukrainian civilians fighting Russians


Those busy beavers in New York City’s vast community of criminals scored a big haul of ballistics vests intended for brave people, and the NYPD wants the public’s help in finding the men responsible.

The New York Police Department reported that in March, a team of thieves stole about 400 donated bulletproof vests that were intended to go to Ukraine.

NYPD Sgt. Edward Riley said police responded to a call of a burglary and that they:

“. . .were informed that approximately 400 bulletproof vests were removed from the location.”

No one was injured during the heist, he said, and officials have no motive for the theft.

Rotten Apple: 'Despicable' thieves steal 400 ballistic vests destined for Ukrainian civilians fighting Russians
Surveillance footage caught the thieves in action. YouTube screenshot courtesy Fox 5 New York.

The six thieves stole the vests from the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America at 2nd Avenue near E 13 Street in Manhattan about 2 p.m. on March 15, police said.

Vicki DiStefano, a spokesperson for Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr., spoke to reporters about the break-in. She said:

“It is despicable that someone would break into a building to steal supplies and materials intended to aid those affected by this humanitarian crisis.”

Authorities said that at least six men broke into the nonprofit’s headquarters in the East Village and hauled off the protective equipment in trash bags and loaded them into three vans that then fled into Brooklyn, officials said. One of the vans was a white.

Rotten Apple: 'Despicable' thieves steal 400 ballistic vests destined for Ukrainian civilians fighting Russians
The bulletproof vests were removed from the UCCA’s office in March. YouTube screenshot courtesy Fox 5 New York.

In the span of less than three hours, three different vans pulled up in front of the building, with multiple people in masks hopping out of each of them and casually walking inside, police said. Surveillance video from a deli next door showed them then haul out large brown boxes full of the gear, load the vans then drive away.

Andrij Dobriansky, a spokesperson for the UCCA, said last week that the plan was for the donated gear to be shipped by air to Poland and then transported by ground into Ukraine. He said Ukrainian Americans are upset about the theft. He said:

“People right now in our community, they’re either in church praying, or everyone is feeling disenfranchised. They have no power right now, and then this happens, and that absolutely affects people.”

Police are hoping the public can help them track down the suspects, and on May 4 released surveillance photos of the six men wanted in connection with the crime.

Police departments in the New York City area have donated hundreds of decommissioned bulletproof vests to charities supporting Ukrainian forces fighting Russia’s invasion, officials said.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office on Long Island said it worked with the Ukrainian nonprofit organizations to donate 450 used, decommissioned vests, but could not confirm that the vests that were stolen were the ones it donated, a spokesperson said.


Sheriff’s Office policy is to stop using the vests after five years but they remain sturdy enough to offer protection to those engaging in warfare, officials said.

The NYPD is asking anyone with information on the burglary to contact the CrimeStoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Anonymous tips can also be submitted on the CrimeStoppers website or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

Can New York City be saved? A veteran police officer systematically destroys the new mayor’s “plans” to save it

April 5, 2021

NEW YORK, NY – In the eight (8) years of then Mayor De Blasio tenure, New York City’s crime rates skyrocketed to levels that predate the 1980’s and 90’s.

While businesses were being burned to the ground and Molotov-Cocktails hurled at officers of the New York City Police Department, Mayor De Blasio openly aligned himself with anarchist groups like “Black Lives Matter” marching beside them and championing their call to “Defund the police.”

With the election now over and former De Blasio gone, Eric Adams takes the reigns as Mayor of New York City, a city that can most accurately be described “Crime Central”.

As part of his then campaign, Eric Adams touted his 20+ years in the NYPD, a man of law and order who if elected, promised to “Take back NYC from the criminals”.

Adams also promised to resurrect the NYPD’s undercover unit known as “Anti-Crime” where police officers donned plain clothes and patrolled in unmarked police vehicles, targeting violent crime ridden neighborhoods?

That single statement by then mayor-elect Adams prompted an immediate response from Hawke Newsome, a member of “Black Lives Matter,” who stated:

“If they think they (Mayor-Elect Adams) are going to go back to the old ways of policing, then we are going to take to the streets again”. “There will be riots. There will be fire. And there will be bloodshed” (ABC News, NYC, 11-11-21), a direct threat aimed at Mayor Adams.

After installing his new police department hierarchy, Mayor Adams was asked again about his plans to address the rising crime and would he be willing to bring back “Anti-Crime” or the “Broken Windows” policy, a proven strategy premised on the fact that by addressing minor quality of life violations such as drinking alcohol in public, panhandling and fare evasion, the bigger problems are significantly halted.

The response from Adams was muted and ambiguous at best.

On January 28, 2022, Mayor Adams released a 15 page document (NYT’s 01-28-22) that laid out a blueprint of how the police and city were going to address the raising crime in NYC.

Most of the document was truly a cut-and-paste from the De Blasio administration; more money for mental health and Criminal Justice Reform (Bail/Bond).

But in reference to the reinstating of “Anti-Crime” the document speaks to a newly and “Rebranded” type of “Anti-Crime” without giving any specifics on difference or its implementation.

Fast forward, the new version of the old “Anti-Crime (Plain clothes)” had been renamed to “Safety Teams” an initiative where 168 NYPD officers wearing a modified uniform will fan out across NYC with the focus of interrupting and arresting violent criminals while simultaneously removing illegal handguns from the street.

As of this writing, all of the seven (7) major violent crime indexes that include Homicide, Rape and Robbery are up with 38% overall with shootings up 32% year to date from 2021 (NBC4 NY, 02-01-22).

Recently, Mayor Adams met with Mayor Lightfoot in Chicago (CBS Chicago, 03-19-22) to discuss crime strategies and possible solutions to the epidemic of gun violence plaguing both of their cities.

While no one can fault Mayor Adams for conferring with other mayors on what they are experiencing and their potential strategies to combat crime, seeking the advice from Mayor Lightfoot, in a city that arguably has more gun violence per-capita than that of New York, seems curious, if not ill advised.

Another option being explored by Mayor Adams is the use of “Drones” (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, NBC 4 NY, 03-27-22) to be used for surveillance of rooftops and crime prone neighborhoods in and around NYC.

While the NYPD currently owns 14 Drones used primarily for parades and other special events, these newly purchased Drones would be used specifically to identify “Hot Spots” and activity of Crimes-in-Progress relayed directly to police on the ground.

As someone who served over 20 years in the NYPD with 13 of those years in various units such as: Anti-Crime, Robbery Task Force, Narcotics, and the Intelligence Division, there is a proven metric and tactical advantage for the use of “Plain Clothes” (Undercover) operations.

Paramount for those involved in Plain clothes work is Officer Safety followed by their effectiveness in crime reduction.  By modifying a uniform or changing the unit’s name, what you have left is essentially “Patrol”.

If Mayor Adams is really truly serious about combating crime in New York, of ridding the city of gun violence, and restoring her to her former glory, seeking advice from the former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his administration might be a good place to start.


Christopher Strom is a US Marine, NYPD Intelligence Officer and author of “Brooklyn to Baghdad: An NYPD Cop Fights Terror in Iraq.” Mr. Strom is also a frequent guest on major news media outlets, giving context on Counter Terrorism and Policing in America.

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