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Cape Coral Police investigating stolen vials of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine

Posted at 11:12 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 22:41:32-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A Cape Coral business left without Covid-19 vaccines after more than $2,000 worth are stolen.

A total of ten vials of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine were stolen from Physicians' Primary Care of Southwest Florida. It’s the first crime of its kind here in the area and it has left police just as confused.

“This is the only one I’ve heard of," says Master Corporal Phil Mullen with the Cape Coral Police Public Affairs Department. "This is brand new. When we did see it yesterday, we figured you guys would come calling. It’s unique.”

According to a police report, an officer was called to Viscaya Parkway Wednesday just after 3 p.m. for the theft. Ten vials of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine that had been once stored in a refrigerator were missing.

“I don’t know why anyone would take those," says Mullen. "It seems that anyone who wants this vaccine is able to get it right now. This isn’t a drug that could have someone that had a dependency on it. It’s sort of a strange thing to take.”

Someone with the business told police the vials had been placed in the refrigerator on April 1. When they went to get them six days later, they were gone.

“I really haven’t heard of any ‘street value,’ so to say, of these things," said Mullen. "If you want the vaccine there are avenues to get it without needing to steal it from a refrigerator. It’s sort of a strange one.”

Each vial contains five doses valued at $45. The total sum being more than $22,000 in vaccines, according to the report.

“It’s a grand theft so, technically, a grand theft can come with at least five years in prison," says Mullen. "It depends on what the value of the grand theft is- it depends on the severity of the felony. We have first, second and third degree felonies in Florida. Third degree, being the lowest, is five years in prison.”

Fingerprints have been submitted to police, with the case being turned over to the property crimes unit. It’s an instance that authorities are hoping to not see again.

Said Mullen, “If so, the detectives who are working on this initial case hopefully will get somewhere of value and see maybe what they’re trying to do with those doses, if anything. If any other ones pop-up, maybe it’s the same investigative stream and we’ll work on it from there.”

And this type of theft - as mentioned by Mullen - is considered a grand theft. Master Corporal Mullen told us that the department will be investigating the case to the fullest.

Fox 4 reached out to Physicians’ Primary Care but declined an on-camera interview but they did release this statement from Dr. Mary Yankaskas, who is the managing physician for the entire practice:

"Physicians’ Primary Care found COVID-19 vaccine missing from one of its Cape Coral locations. The Cape Coral Police were immediately notified and are investigating. We are taking this theft very seriously. Unfortunately, this means that the missing vaccines will not make it into the arms of our patients who need them. "