Thousands of stolen respirator masks are being delivered to local hospitals after the supplies were recovered as part of a multidepartment investigation, Oregon police said Sunday.
Twenty to 25 cases of N95 respirator masks, totaling about $2,500, were reported stolen from The Rebuilding Center, a construction and sustainability nonprofit, earlier this month, Portland Police said.
The day after the masks were reported stolen, staff at the center found a Craigslist user who appeared to be offering them for sale. A meeting was arranged in Beaverton and local police were contacted.
Beaverton Police arrested the alleged robber, Vladislav Drozdek, 22, and he was charged on theft in the first degree.
Six cases of the masks were recovered at that time, and the Portland Police Bureau located at least seven more boxes stored in a house on Saturday, police said.
Police said the recovered cases, each holding 400 masks, were returned to The Rebuilding Center and are being donated to local hospitals to help as supplies deplete amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"This was a good example of interagency teamwork and cooperation, along with some helpful detective work by the victim," Portland Police Bureau 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."
Further arrests and charges are possible, police said.
Hospitals across the country have warned that they are running out of N95 masks and other necessary supplies to protect health care workers when treating COVID-19 patients, as well as running out of beds and respirators to treat infected patients.
There are 191 confirmed cases of the virus in Oregon, according to the state’s health department data.