Urgent appeal as car carrying Covid jabs left with keys in ignition stolen

A US-wide manhunt is underway after a car carrying 30 vials of Covid vaccines was stolen while left empty with the keys in the ignition.

Crimestoppers have offered a £3,655 ($5,000) reward to find the suspect who was caught getting into the car in a festival grounds in Florida.

CCTV shows a "long-haired Hispanic man in his early 20s" getting into the 2018 Hyundai Accent which was taken from a vaccine distribution site's parking lot on Wednesday.

A courier transporting its $10,000 (£7,310) worth of jabs reportedly left the keys in the ignition and got out after not knowing where to park at the Strawberry Festival Grounds.

Fox News reporter Ken Suarez said police believed it was a "crime of opportunity".

He said: "They are not positive, they have not talked to the guy, they have not traced him down but they think he just happened to be walking by, saw the opportunity, saw the car and took off, unfortunately with up to 180 doses of the vaccine which are now missing."

Dorothy Norman, who had driven three hours from The Villages to the site for her jab, said: "I know there are people in my neighbourhood who cannot get even on a list to get it.

"I think it's horrendous."

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Asked if the suspect knew vaccines were in the car, Captain Jerry Swan of the Plant City Police Department said: "That is unclear at this time. It doesn't appear to be that way but we are keeping all of our options open on that."

The grey car contained 30 vials of the vaccine that were to be distributed at a vaccination site at the festival grounds.

Officials said the vials were properly refrigerated at the time the vehicle was stolen.

They will not be used even if the car is found due the risk of contamination, reports said.

A police report said the keys had been left in the ignition of the car.

Police said a nationwide alert was placed on the vehicle, which has Florida license plate NPJJ58.

Authorities released a brief surveillance video of a person of interest in the case, described as a man in his early 20s with long hair.

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