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Florida police search for car stolen while carrying vaccine

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PLANT CITY, Fla. (AP) — Florida police are investigating the theft of a car that was carrying $10,000 worth of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Plant City Police Department said Thursday that it is searching for a man suspected of having stolen the vehicle with 30 vials inside that had parked near a vaccination site in the city where Florida's winter strawberries are harvested.

The police incident report says the gray Hyundai Accent had been left with the engine running and unlocked by a driver who worked for CDR Maguire, a contractor hired for vaccination scheduling and logistical support, including taking vaccines from county health departments to specific sites.

The company said in a statement that its employee was taking vaccine vials in temperature-controlled coolers from the Hillsborough County Department of Health in Tampa to Plant City's Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds, but at the entrance of the delivery point there was "a line that hindered him from entering." The driver got out of the car to find a security guard to allow him into the site when the suspect got in the car and took off.

Police told news outlets that the 21-year-old driver is not considered a suspect.

"We have no reason to believe the thief knew the vials were in the car," CDR Maguire said in an emailed statement, adding that it has already secured replacements and the incident had not prompted any cancellations of vaccine appointments.

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