PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Approximately 5,000 blank COVID vaccination cards and an unknown amount of N95 masks were reported stolen from Pennsylvania Hospital in Center City Philadelphia this week.
"It's just sad that people would be willing to go that far to do something like that," Caleb Kantor, a resident of Center City and Hoboken, New Jersey, said.
According to police, the senior director of the hospital's COVID-19 vaccine clinic reported the theft to police on Tuesday.
The blank cards and masks were taken from a storage room inside the clinic, to which all hospital staff has access.
Police say there were no signs of forced entry.
While we don't know what has become of these stolen cards, there have been increasing cases elsewhere of fraudulent cards. These cases include a growing black market online for counterfeit cards and real cards that have been forged.
"Vaccines are public health. It's about not just taking care of myself, but it's about taking care of my family. It's about taking care of all of the people around me," said Chase Doyle of Society Hill.
"The point is to keep people safe, and if we have people faking that in tight scenes like the bars and concerts and sporting events- it's not really fair to the rest of us that actually got it," said Molly Dugan of Center City.
Just last week in Long Island, a third person was charged in a fake vaccination card scheme.
A receptionist and two nurses are accused of forging official COVID vaccination cards and entering the information into New York's statewide database.
Some say an electronic system, versus blank paper cards, would be more effective in stamping out potential fraud.
"I know some places have the Excelsior pass things that you can have online so it's stored to an actual database and tied to something; if you do want to quell that problem, that's the way to probably do it," said Kantor.
New York State uses the Exclesior app, described as a secure, digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccinate record or negative test result. In New Jersey, you can download the Docket app.
Pennsylvania and Delaware do not have apps for digital versions of the vaccine record, but do have ways to get a copy if you lose your card. Delaware has the DelVAX hub to access your vaccination record. In Pennsylvania, residents are asked to contact the provider who administered the vaccine to get a copy of your record. Philadelphia residents have their own way of getting a copy.
Penn Medicine released the following statement in regards to theft:
"Safety and security are top priorities in all of our facilities. When this issue was discovered, we promptly reported it to the Philadelphia police and are cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation."
Anyone with information on the stolen items is asked to contact Philadelphia Police.
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Blank vaccine cards, N95 masks stolen from storage room inside Pennsylvania Hospital: Police
Police say all hospital staff members have access to the storage room, and there were no signs of forced entry.