BEAVERTON, Ore. — A woman called police March 6 to report the theft of what has become an increasingly valuable commodity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Someone had stolen 8,000 N95 respirator masks—the kind frontline health care workers desperately need amid nationwide shortages of personal protective gear.
The two-dozen cases of masks—worth about $2,500—were stolen from a Portland hardware store, the ReBuilding Center.
The next day, March 7, the victim saw what appeared to be stolen masks for sale on Craigslist. She set up a meeting with the seller, 42-year-old Vladislav Drozdek. Meanwhile, she notified Beaverton police of the Craigslist ad.
When Drozdek arrived at the agreed location, Beaverton police arrested him and recovered six cases of the stolen masks.
Days later, Portland police recovered seven more cases and returned them to the victim, who immediately donated the 13 cases of masks to area hospitals, the Portland Police Bureau said in a press release Sunday.
Drozdek, a Beaverton man, is being held in the Washington County Jail on charges of first-degree theft "during a catastrophe or other emergency, in the area affected by the catastrophe or other emergency," court documents say.