Thieves stole about 400 bulletproof vests that were supposed to be sent to humanitarian workers in Ukraine, officials said.
The bulletproof vests were stolen from the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, a nonprofit organization based in Manhattan, the New York Police Department confirmed to news outlets on Wednesday.
“People right now in our community, they’re either in church praying or everyone is feeling disenfranchised. They have no power right now, and then this happens, and that absolutely affects people,” Ukrainian Congress Committee of America spokesman Andrij Dobriansky told NBC 4.
Police responded to a call of a burglary at around 9:15 a.m. before they “were informed that approximately 400 bulletproof vests were removed from the location,” NYPD Sergeant Edward Riley told the outlet.
He said that those vests were meant to be sent to medics, aid workers, and others—but not Ukrainian military members.
“Who isn’t being supplied are territorial defenses, the people who are getting humanitarian supplies across. So these kinds of donations—whether they come from Suffolk County, we have a lot of police precincts in New Jersey and upstate New York also donating, these are why it’s important,” said Dobriansky.
“As far as we can tell, maybe about three-quarters of that supply was taken last night,” added Dobriansky.
New York’s Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office told the New York Post that it donated vests to the group but wouldn’t confirm the 400 vests that were stolen were the ones that it had donated.
“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,” a spokesperson told the paper. “We offer the NYPD any assistance it needs in locating these stolen items.”
Vicki DiStefano, another spokesperson for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, told local media that it is “despicable that someone would break into a building to steal supplies and materials intended to aid” individuals who were affected during a humanitarian crisis.
Since the start of the Feb. 24 conflict, a number of NATO countries, including the United States, have also deployed weapons, ammunition, and other military supplies to Ukraine’s military. The White House and NATO, however, have said that no troops will be deployed, and establishing a no-fly zone over the country is not being considered.
Other details about the incident were not provided. It’s not clear if anything else was stolen.