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. Officials said there initially was no suspect information.
The next day, police said the victim found someone selling what she believed to be the stolen respirator masks on Craigslist.
The victim then 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.
Each case had about 400 N95 respirator masks inside and the total loss was close to $2,500, according to police. (Portland Police Bureau)
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.
An officer recovered the boxes and returned them to the victim, who donated the masks to local hospitals to help them as they 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).
According to Portland police, additional arrests and charges are still possible.
As the coronavirus pandemic has grown in the U.S., so have related criminal incidents. In Arizona, a man stole dozens of coronavirus testing kits from a health clinic on Friday while posing as a delivery driver, authorities said.
The Oregon Health Authority said as of Sunday there are 161 cases of coronavirus in the state, with the highest number in Washington count at 55 COVID-19 infections.