Authorities arrest man accused of stealing 100 vials of COVID-19 vaccine

The man also allegedly stole over $100,000 in medical equipment.

May 6, 2021, 5:09 AM

A man has been arrested for allegedly stealing 100 vials of a COVID-19 vaccine and other property in Washington state, authorities said.

The burglary happened last week at a dental office in Purdy, about 30 miles southwest of Seattle. The owner called 911 in the early morning on April 30 to report that someone had entered the building overnight and stolen 100 vials of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, a vial of Botox and more than $100,000 in medical equipment, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.

While its deputies searched for the person responsible, the sheriff's department put out an alert reminding residents that "COVID-19 vaccines are always free" and to only access them "through legitimate sources."

Vials of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a hospital pharmacy in Denver, Colorado, on March 6, 2021.
David Zalubowski/AP, File

"So we ask the question, 'What would a thief want with 100 COVID-19 vaccines that you can get for free?' The answer is, 'We're not sure,'" the sheriff's department wrote in a post on Facebook. "But we want you to be cautious if you come across someone who offers you a vaccine outside of official vaccination events, medical/dental offices or pharmacies."

On Wednesday, the sheriff's department announced that the suspect -- a 30-year-old man -- had been identified and arrested. Deputies recovered most of the stolen property, including the COVID-19 vaccine vials, which was hidden in bushes and largely destroyed by the weather.

Investigators also determined that the man was allegedly responsible for another burglary at a nearby hair salon, where products, styling tools and towels were stolen. A majority of that property was recovered as well, according to the sheriff's department.

Charges will be forwarded to the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office for review.

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