Story By: Juan Fenandez Mayes, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
These are the piles of empty boxes left after 4 million GBP of medical equipment to fight the coronavirus – including nearly 2 million face masks – was stolen from a Spanish warehouse.
The warehouse belongs to a company based in the city of Santiago de Compostela located in the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain.
The local authorities reportedly received authorisation to access the facility after hearing it could contain “a large number of model FFP2 face masks, surgical gloves, pants, sanitation uniforms, first aid kits and alcohol” which the authorities then planned to use in hospitals, according to the local government.
The products were reportedly in storage while the company finished arrangements with creditors.
Local media report the warehouse contained 5 million EUR (4.39 million GBP) worth of equipment including 2 million face masks, of which only 1,000 were left behind.
The video shows the large depot with empty boxes scattered all across the floor as some shelves can be seen with large containers while the majority are completely empty.
Another video shows the moment police enter and walk around the area showing empty face mask boxes and other materials left after the robbery.
The local government, called Xunta de Galicia, told reporters that the masks had been taken out of their boxes with the “aim of hiding their source.
“Everything seems to indicate the robbery was done when the pandemic of the coronavirus was already present in several countries and was considered a public health problem” as sources suspect it was done in February.
The official sources went on to say the thieves “were perfectly aware that this material was very necessary for the fight against the disease and was already starting to become scarce in the market.”
The strongest hypothesis for the whereabouts of the material is that “after it was stolen it was sold to a company based in Portugal”.
Spanish newspaper ‘ABC’ say “police sources” say the robbery took place for “about 40 hours” and the thieves used “a forklift from a nearby warehouse to move” the large pallets.
After studying the evidence of the robbery, security footage and witnesses, “the investigation led to a businessman from the city” who has not been identified and was detained on Saturday 4th April after he was seen walking around the area before the robbery.
Local media report the man owns a property company in Santiago de Compostela and has given his statement to the authorities. He remains in custody.
The Spanish police have asked for the cooperation of Portuguese security forces as they search for the others involved but say the masks are almost impossible to trace as they have been taken out of their boxes. The investigation is ongoing.
The local government regrets the loss of the material saying: “With these masks, we could have guaranteed they would be administered to medical workers and residents in retirement homes in Galicia.”
Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries by COVID-19. According to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University, there have been 140,510 cases leading to 13,798 deaths.
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