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Police say they’ve arrested a man accused of trying to sell thousands of face masks intended for hospital workers that were stolen earlier this month. Police said someone took 20 to 25 cases of N95 respirator masks from The ReBuilding Center in North Portland on March 7. Each case contained 400 masks.
Protective equipment for health workers is in short supply amid the coronavirus pandemic. The nonprofit ReBuilding Center diverts building materials from landfills and offers them for reuse. Court records indicate the victim of the theft was Mercy Corps, another Portland nonprofit.
The masks were going to be donated to Mercy Corps. The day after the theft the victim of the theft found the masks for sale on Craigslist. The victim contacted the seller and arranged a meeting with the seller to purchase the masks. The victim then contacted the Beaverton Police Department. The seller did not meet the buyer he was looking for; instead, he met Beaverton police officers.
He was booked into the Washington County Jail on suspicion of first-degree theft by receiving stolen property. Officers recovered six boxes of masks. After further investigation, Portland police on Saturday recovered seven more boxes of masks stored in a Northeast Portland house. The remaining boxes of masks haven’t been found.
Police said the investigation continues, and more arrests are possible. The masks recovered have been donated to local hospitals.