PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Police are searching for a man in his 20s after a car carrying vials of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine was stolen from just outside the inoculation site at the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds in Plant City, authorities said.
Police said 30 vials of the COVID-19 vaccine were being stored in a gray Hyundai Accent parked at the parking lot on Reynolds Street. The keys were in the ignition.
“An employee that was going to be working at the vaccination distribution point here in Plant City left their car unattended just outside the gates of the vaccination location, presumably to get directions or get instructions on what to with the vials of vaccines they had in their vehicle,” said Captain Jerry Stwan with the Plant City Police Department. “While the car was unattended somebody walking down the street came up, a crime of opportunity, jumped in the car stolen car and stole the car along with its contents.”
The vials were in a portable freezer inside the vehicle and were properly refrigerated at the time of the theft, officials said. They were meant to be distributed at the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds, one of the vaccine distribution sites in Hillsborough County, and were for those getting their second dose, according to the health department. The 30 vials contained between 150 and 180 doses in total.
The vehicle was stolen around 4 p.m. Wednesday. It’s a 2018 gray Hyundai Accent with the Florida tag NPJJ58.
Police released video of the suspect, who they described as a light-skinned male in his early 20s. He has long hair and was wearing a light-colored hoodie when the theft occurred.
“It appears to be a crime of opportunity for the vehicle itself, and the vials happened to be in there, but, as investigators, obviously we’re going to keep an open mind on that,” said Captain Stwan.
The Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that helps officials identify and arrest the suspect(s) involved in this case. If you have any information and want to be eligible for the cash reward, please call 1-800-873-8477.
You can also call Plant City police if you have any information.