Three men tried to steal more than $2,000 worth of power tools from a Lowe's Home Improvement store and one of them went inside knowing he was infected with coronavirus, authorities said.
Four patrol officers and several customers were exposed to COVID-19, Howell police said on Facebook.
Police were called to the Route 9 store about 2 p.m. Monday, where they found the suspects detained by civilians, according to the post on Howell Police Department's Facebook page.
All three subjects were arrested, secured in patrol cars and transported to headquarters, according to the post. On the way, it was learned one of the suspects was positive for the COVID-19 virus.
"This was confirmed via health department," the post read.
Howell officers were treated for exposure. All three suspects, two from Toms River and another from Jackson, were inside the store without taking any type of precautions to protect others, the Facebook post said. "The civilians who assisted now have to worry as well."
All three men were charged with theft and released.
“This is another example why it is so important to abide by the ‘Stay at Home’ order. If you need to go out, wear some sort of approved respiratory mask or facial covering. There are some out there like these three who don’t care about how their conduct affects you. Even if it results in you becoming seriously ill.” -Howell Township Police Chief Andrew Kudrick said on Facebook.
The four officers were placed on administrative leave and are following quarantine procedures, authorities said, adding that they will miss work at least a week, pending tests results.
Howell police did not release the suspects' names, citing federal guidelines.
"Normally, we would have publicly shamed them for their criminal and highly negligent behavior," the Facebook post read.
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