ORLANDO, Fla. - Plant City police officers said a car carrying the COVID-19 vaccine was stolen right outside a site where senior citizens get their vaccines.
It happened outside the Strawberry Festival Grounds on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the incident report, the vaccines were being delivered by CDR Health, a company hired by Florida Emergency Management to distribute the vaccine. A spokesperson from CDR Health said a line hindered the worker from going into the secure site so he got out of his car to get the attention of the security guard, and that's when his vehicle was stolen with the vaccines.
"Saw a crime of opportunity and stole the car with 30 vials of the vaccine," said Plant City Police Capt. Jerry Stwan. "The car was left unattended by the driver. Presumably, the driver had left the vehicle to come inside the secure compound to get further direction on what to do with the vaccines."
Stwan said that law enforcement officers are urging people not to leave the car running or keys in the car.
"They were refrigerated, using a portable refrigerator," he explained. The person of interest is believed to be a man in his 20s, described as thin, light-skinned, with long hair. He was wearing a light-colored hoodie. The license plate number of the stolen car is NPJJ58.
"It appears to be just this crime of opportunity just to steal the car and the suspect probably didn’t know there was 30 vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the car," Capt. Stwan added.
The Hillsborough County Health Department said the vials had 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
"I think it’s a terrible loss when I know there are people in my neighborhood that can’t even get on a list to get it," Dorothy Norman said.
"I think it’s terrible! People need those doses and they’re going to be no good," Marilyn Gawne added.
Even if the vials are found, the health department said it can’t use them, because they could be contaminated.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Plant City Police Department at 813-757-9200.
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