Delta police officers stopped two people this week from re-selling boxes of N95 face masks and surgical masks at highly inflated prices.
According to Delta police, an officer with the DPD crime reduction unit, which typically focuses on stolen property, was proactively looking through online ads when she came upon an individual looking to re-sell N95 masks.
She reached out, and arranged to buy a quantity of masks at a price of $15 per individual mask, plus a $300 “delivery fee.”
“Our crime reduction unit follows crime trends, and it’s troubling to see people trying to flout the ministerial order during this pandemic,” said DPD spokesperson Cris Leykauf.
Prior to meeting with the seller on April 2, police contacted Delta bylaws to determine what bylaw offences would apply in these circumstances.
The seller, a Burnaby resident, showed up to the pre-arranged location, driving a luxury vehicle. A police officer approached the man and informed him he would be receiving a $500 bylaw ticket for operating with no business license. Police took possession of 60 masks, for which the seller was asking $1,200.
In a separate incident on April 3, police arranged to meet a separate seller from Vancouver, this one selling surgical masks. In this instance police had arranged to purchase 3,000 surgical masks for $2,200. This seller as well was given a $500 bylaw ticket.
Both sellers voluntarily relinquished the masks to police, with the second seller relinquishing an additional 2,300 masks. In total police took possession of 5,360 masks.
In an update on Tuesday, DPD saidall the masks were handed over to SafeCare BC, which is running Operation Protect, and is one of the organizations collecting Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) on behalf of the provincial government.
The masks will be redistributed to health authorities in the province where they are most needed.
Ali Devji, who is the president of the BC Care Providers Board of Directors, believes the masks will likely be prioritized to protect fragile seniors in care.
The BC Public Safety Minister issued a ministerial order March 26 under the Emergency Program Act, banning the secondary resale of medical supplies and personal protective equipment.