An Arizona hospital worker allegedly stole $1,700 worth of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies during the novel coronavirus outbreak

By Dave Quinn
April 06, 2020 12:34 PM
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Credit: Prescott Police Department/AP/Shutterstock

An Arizona man who worked at a hospital in housekeeping was arrested last Friday after allegedly stealing $1,700 worth of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Keith Brown, 49, was fired from his job at the Yavapai Regional Medical Center West Campus and booked in the Yavapai County Jail on charges of felony theft and fraud, according to a Prescott police press release obtained by PEOPLE.

His coworkers had contacted police with suspicions about Brown, police said. Authorities allegedly found “numerous items” in Brown’s home and car including hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, toilet paper, bleach cleaner, surgical scrubs, washcloths, paper towels and more.

Brown allegedly admitted to police he’d stolen the items over the last three weeks, according to police, the press release states.

In the meantime, authorities say they’re working to return all items to the hospital, according to the release.

As of Monday morning, there had been over 336,000 positive coronavirus diagnoses in the United States across all 50 states and territories, according to The New York Times. At least 9,600 people have died.

Each day, the number of cases across the country escalates by the thousands. In Arizona, there had been 2,269 cases and 64 deaths as of Monday morning.

Credit: Prescott Police

The outbreak has caused a shortage of medical and cleaning supplies nationwide, especially masks.

Federal health experts at the Centers for Disease Control are also recommending Americans wear non-medical, cloth face masks now if they go out in public.

The new recommendation does not replace the government’s ongoing order that people follow social distancing rules, avoid public gatherings and stay six feet apart from others.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams reminded residents on Friday not to use an N95 medical grade mask, which the government is still working to preserve for health care workers.

PEOPLE’s request for comment to Brown was not immediately returned. It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea or retained an attorney.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.