Man Jailed for Six Months After Stealing Masks and Hand Sanitizer From Ambulance

A man in the U.K. has been jailed for six months after stealing items including face masks and hand sanitizer from an ambulance amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Mark Manley, 35, admitted to stealing equipment from the stationary ambulance and assaulting a security guard, London's Metropolitan Police said on Thursday. He was handed a six-month sentence at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Police said they were called to St Thomas Street in Southwark, London, where Guy's Hospital is located, at around 9.20 p.m. on Saturday after receiving a report that a man had stolen items from an ambulance.

When challenged by security staff, police said Manley assaulted one security guard and racially abused another. The security guard he attacked sustained facial injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

Mark Manley
Mark Manley has been jailed for six months for stealing items including face masks and hand sanitizer from an ambulance amid the coronavirus outbreak. Metropolitan Police

Manley had taken a bag containing personal protective equipment (PPE) from the ambulance, which included masks, paper suits and hand gel—items that have become scarce as demand increases due to the pandemic.

Police said some of the items could no longer be used due to contamination.

The security staff and patrolling officers from British Transport Police detained Manley until police arrived at the scene to arrest him.

After being taken to a police station in South London, Manley was charged with theft from a motor vehicle and a racially aggravated Public Order Act offense. He was also charged with assaulting an emergency worker in relation to the attack on the security guard.

The news comes a week after nurses chased after suspects who made off with hand sanitizer stolen from dispensers inside a London hospital.

The incident occurred at Teddington Memorial Hospital in London, Eileen Carney-Jones, an advanced nurse practitioner, wrote on Twitter. Carney-Jones said "hooded gentlemen" had opened a hand sanitizer dispenser at the hospital and stole its contents. She added that nurses followed the thieves until police officers arrived at the scene.

The U.K. has more than 29,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 2,352 deaths, according to the latest figures from Public Health England. More than 8,000 of the cases are in London alone.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.