Woman Charged with Larceny After Stealing Face Masks and Other Medical Supplies from a Hospital

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.


As the community prepares for the frightening pandemic situation of coronavirus, it’s become plain to see that our unsung heroes amongst the crisis are the doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers, operating around the clock to help the hundreds of sick patients.

Whether dealing with cases of COVID-19 or other medical matters, these health care workers continue to sacrifice their own strength and safety for the sake of public well-being, often ignoring their own struggles.

But now, our esteemed frontline workers are facing a momentous problem of their own – the critical shortage of personal protective equipment.

Indeed, the World Health Organisation recently announced the impending global unavailability of face masks and other sanitary products.

As a consequence, they even warned people not to hoard these items.

But for one woman, this humble plea wasn’t enough.

Taking matters into her own hands, the woman, aged 65, allegedly stole a series of medical supplies from a hospital in Perth.

Police say they were taken for her own personal use.


Woman Attended Hospital to Mentor Students on Work Experience; Ends up Stealing Face Masks, Sanitisers, Wipes

Western Australia Today reports that in March 2020, a woman from Carine allegedly stole 60 face masks, multiple bottles of antiseptic hand sanitisers, wipes and swabs from a hospital in Perth’s northern suburbs.

The woman, who works for a university, attended the hospital as a mentor for students who were partaking in work experience.

On two separate occasions when she visited the hospital – 4 March and 6 March – she allegedly left with stolen medical supplies.

Financial Crime Squad detectives uncovered the suspected theft in an investigation, which later led to a raid on a property in Perth.

The 65-year-old has been charged with three stealing offences and is expected to face Perth Magistrates Court next week.


Western Australia Police Express Disappointment of Stolen Medical Supplies as Community Gets Ready for Pandemic

Speaking of the theft, Western Australia Police were quick to express their frustration as the community prepares for the coronavirus pandemic.

“Staff working in medical facilities are on the frontline of the critical response to health situations and the medial supplies they hold are used to protect themselves and their patients from the spread of potentially harmful viruses,” a Western Australia Police spokesperson

“At a time when those medical professionals need their protective equipment the most, it is disappointing to find ourselves in a position where we are required to investigate the alleged theft of such items.”

Unfortunately, while the medical supplies were retrieved, they were not able to be used because of fears they would be contaminated.


Western Australia Health Minister Welcomes Police Action into Stolen Supplies

Meanwhile, ABC News reports that at a press conference, Western Australia Health Minister, Roger Cook, hailed the police action over the incident.

“This is a despicable act at a time when the community needs to be pulling together,” Minister Cook said.

“I hope that if these charges are found to be accurate that then the full force of the law is brought to bear.”

For more info on this area of law, call us to arrange a free consult with an experienced criminal lawyer in Sydney.

Larceny Laws & Penalties in NSW

In NSW, stealing – the crime of taking property or money belonging to another person irrespective of what that property is or its value – is referred to as larceny.

Larceny is an offence that is frequently prosecuted across the state.

For a person to be found guilty of a larceny offence, the police must first prove that:

  1. The accused person has taken and carried away property belonging to someone else; and
  2. That property was taken without consent; and
  3. That property was taken with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it.

In NSW, the law on larceny is reflected in section 117 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

It carries a heavy penalty of up to 5-years jail with a criminal conviction/record. This applies if the case is dealt with in the district court, which is where it’s not commonly dealt in.

Larceny charges are commonly dealt with in the local courts of NSW. Where dealt with in the local court, the maximum penalties range from a criminal conviction with 2-years jail or $5,500 fine (or both), to a criminal conviction with 1-year jail or $2,000 fine (or both).

The penalties depend on the value of the property stolen.

If the stolen property is valued at over $5,000, the max penalty is 2-years jail and/or $5,500 fine.

If the stolen property is under $5,000, the max penalty is 1-year jail and/or $5,500 fine.

If the stolen property is under $2,000, the max penalty is 1-year jail and/or $2,200 fine.

Additionally, an offence of larceny is said to not have taken place if the property was taken away for a temporary purpose and not to deprive the owner of it permanently.

Furthermore, an offence is also not committed if the person had a genuine belief (even if mistaken) that they were entitled to the property.

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