Police hunt gang of crooks who stole £166,000 of life-saving PPE destined for NHS
7 May 2020, 17:33 | Updated: 7 May 2020, 17:37
Police are hunting a gang of burglars who stole 80,000 face masks destined for the NHS and frontline workers.
£166,000 worth of potentially life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) was taken from the warehouse of a medical supplies firm at the Trafalgar Business Park in Salford, Greater Manchester, overnight.
The high-quality n95 respirator masks were to be supplied to the NHS along with councils and care homes in West Yorkshire.
The gang of three suspects spent around two hours at the premises, cutting a hole in the warehouse steel shutters so as not to trigger burglar alarms by lifting up the door.
They then removed 320 boxes, or 10 pallets' worth of the masks.
Other medical equipment, including cheaper quality masks - also housed at the site, were left untouched.
Police are trawling CCTV and want to trace three offenders, two men and a third person, possibly a woman, all wearing dark clothing, who made off with the haul in three vehicles; a white Mercedes Sprinter van, a grey Volkswagen Caddy van and a grey silver estate vehicle.
Detectives believe they were at the site between 9.30pm on Wednesday and 12.20am today, when the alarm was raised by a security guard.
Detective Inspector Christopher Mannion, from Greater Manchester Police, said: "It is striking how deliberate, calculated and targeted this incident was.
"The offenders were at the scene for around two hours and no other items other than the PPE was stolen.
"This is a particularly sickening crime when you consider that the PPE was intended for the NHS and for care home workers and at a time when we are trying to protect the NHS and one another against one common enemy in Covid-19.
"To know there are individuals out there that are prepared to steal the equipment that keeps the frontline workers and the vulnerable safe is quite frankly, shocking, and I'm determined we catch these perpetrators as soon as possible.
"There's any number of ways people can offload the supply of PPE, it's obviously become quite a valuable commodity, there's anticipation around what measures the Government are going to bring in place in the coming weekend.
"Clearly there's an open market there and there's any number of ways that these people can sell on the goods stolen from here."
Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives on 0161 856 5345 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.