Thief breaks into health care worker’s car and steals N95 masks


Police often remind people to take out or hide valuables when leaving their cars, but in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, what’s considered valuable has changed.

“When I got to my car, basically the window was smashed, glass was on the ground,” David Seto, a health care worker, told CBS Los Angeles. “So I looked in there and saw what was taken.”

Seto, who works at the VA, had parked his car overnight in a South Pasadena garage. He said the thieves knew exactly what they wanted.

“It looked like they went right for the N95 masks and some gloves, like medical gloves,” he said.

A frightening thought, especially since Seto works on the frontlines at the hospital.

“We have a whole special COVID-19 screening area that’s outside the hospital, in front of the emergency entrance, so we do the swabbing for all the patients with fever and coughs and all that stuff,” Seto said. “So, pretty high risk.”

That role means having personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves, is vital to his safety.

“In the beginning, this was actually what I was using in the hospital because we didn’t have any N95s for people that were doing my job,” Seto said. “And now it’s become backup.”

Seto’s wife posted an alert to a Facebook group in case the thief tries to sell the masks and gloves at a markup.

“Looks like N95 now is something very valuable (if they do price gouging),” she wrote. “If you have some in your car, hide them.”

And while Seto has filed a police report and was working with the authorities to try to get security video of the theft, he said he understood.

“People are strapped for cash,” he said. “I totally understand it, so all we can do is just maintain an attitude of goodwill and compassion.”

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