Van with 400,000 Protective Masks Stolen in Germany

Published: 10 June 2020

Face Masks"Surgical Face Mask" by "NurseTogether" (licensed under *CC BY-SA 4.0)

By Zdravko Ljubas

German police are looking for witnesses of the theft of 400,000 masks from that what it described as a carefully planned carjacking that took place on Monday.

The driver of the van made a brief stop in front of a fast-food restaurant at the A3 Wertheim-Bettingen highway around noon, police told OCCRP. When he returned some 10 minutes later, the van, laden with protective face-masks, was gone. The vehicle was found the same day, but empty.

This is not the first time that Germany reports criminal activities tied to protective masks, which have become the new gold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the outbreak of the pandemic in March, six million masks intended for Germany simply “disappeared” from an airport in Kenya, as Der Spiegel Online reported at the time. It remains unclear why the masks, produced by a German company, had been in Kenya.

In a separate case a month later, OCCRP also reported about the bust of a group attempting to sell millions of non-existent masks to German health authorities.