NEW YORK - About 400 bulletproof vests destined for Ukraine were stolen from a New York City nonprofit organization that has been leading an effort to collect and ship tactical gear to people in the warzone, police said Wednesday.
Police say the used vests, donated by local law enforcement, were taken from the offices of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America on Second Avenue in Manhattan.
Police responded around 9:15 a.m. to a call of a burglary and "were informed that approximately 400 bullet proof vests that were removed from the location," NYPD Sergeant Edward Riley said.
The AP left a message seeking comment from the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.
Police departments in the New York City area have donated hundreds of decommissioned bulletproof vests to charities supporting Ukrainian forces fighting Russia's invasion.
The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office said it worked with the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America to donate 450 used, decommissioned vests. However, the sheriff's office said it couldn't confirm that its vests were stolen. A spokesperson for the sheriff condemned the theft and offered to help the NYPD in its investigation.
"The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office was following suit of other local police departments and Sheriff's Offices in donating tactile items to help the war struck people of Ukraine through the assistance of reputable organizations such as the Ukrainian Committee Congress of America," spokesperson Vicki DiStefano said in a statement to FOX 5 NY. "While we cannot confirm that the items the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office donated are the items in question, it is despicable that someone would break into a building [and] steal supplies and materials intended to aid those affected by this humanitarian crisis."
The sheriff’s office stops using the vests after five years, but officials said they remain sturdy enough to offer protection in warfare.
Andrij Dobriansky, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, said last week that the plan was for donated gear to be shipped by air to Poland and then transported into Ukraine.
The items were most likely to be used by civilian security and medical teams, including citizens who have joined the fight against the Russian military, not Ukrainian soldiers themselves, officials said.
With The Associated Press.