Last Updated on May 8, 2022
NYPD detectives have been unable to identify a team of thieves who stole over 400 bulletproof vests from a nonprofit organization this past March. The stolen vests were waiting to be shipped to Ukraine, where they were supposed to be used by medical workers.
Video footage shows a team of at least six thieves stealing the vests over the course of three hours. The footage, which was captured by security cameras from a nearby deli, shows multiple, masked black males carrying out brown boxes filled with the Ukraine-bound vests, which they then threw into the back of three separate vans.
NYPD recently released new video in which the thieves’ faces can be clearly seen.
NYC thieves captured on video taking bulletproof vests meant for Ukraine.#WeStandWithUkraine #nyc #Ukraine #Russian pic.twitter.com/oLw8VePVbU
— The DAILY UPDATES (@dailyupdate_1) March 20, 2022
The heist took place at the offices of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) on Second Avenue in Manhattan, according to NBC 4 New York.
“People right now in our community, they’re either in church praying, or everyone is feeling disenfranchised. They have no power right now, and then this happens, and that absolutely affects people,” said Andrij Dobriansky, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.
According to Dobriansky, the vests were meant to be used by medics and humanitarian workers. They were not expected to be used by the Ukrainian military.
Police departments in the New York City area have donated hundreds of decommissioned bulletproof vests to charities supporting Ukraine, NBC 4 reported. The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office on Long Island said it worked with the UCCA to donate 450 used, decommissioned vests, but could not confirm that the vests that were stolen were the ones it donated.
The vests are decommissioned after five years, but officials said they will still provide adequate protection for aid workers.
“It is despicable that someone would break into a building to steal supplies and materials intended to aid those affected by this humanitarian crisis,” said Vicki DiStefano, a spokesperson for Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr.
According to the UCCA, about three-quarters of the bulletproof vests were stolen during the March heist.
Police are still searching for the three vans and anyone who was inside them. The vests have yet to be recovered, though officials said they were tracked to Brooklyn.