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Raid leads to cache of medical equipment

Detectives serve a search warrant in quiet Saugus neighborhood and find $200,000 in stolen medical

Posted: October 27, 2010 9:28 p.m.
Updated: October 28, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Sheriff’s detectives raided a Saugus home Wednesday and seized $200,000 worth of stolen emergency medical tents that were meant to go to California hospitals, along with a recreational-vehicle trailer and jet skis, authorities said.

Derek Gainer, 39, of Saugus, was arrested on suspicion of grand theft and receiving stolen property at the home in the 21000 block of Kingscrest Road, capping a monthlong investigation, according to sheriff's officals .

Gainer also had an outstanding warrant for grand theft in the amount of $30,000, and was being held at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in lieu of $130,000 bail pending future court proceedings, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Darren Harris.

Early Wednesday morning, investigators with J-Team, a specialized unit of the Sheriff’s Department, entered a Saugus home in the 21000 block of Kingscrest Road with a search warrant and found the stolen property.

The raid capped a four-week J-Team investigation, Harris said.

“Obviously, they must be thinking they could re-sell it without raising an eyebrow,” he said. “But, that was not the case.”

Stolen property seized in the raid includes several portable air-conditioning and filtration systems, as well as several temporary mobile medical triage units — described as emergency medical tents — often used in disasters by doctors and nurses.

Also recovered at the house were a box trailer, an RV trailer and two jet skis, all believed stolen.

Investigators believe the equipment may have gone missing as long as two years ago through theft or the interruption of a large shipment from Ohio.

“It could be a case of someone signing for a bulk order or a container and learning later ‘Hey, we’re missing something here,’” Harris said.

Early information indicates much of the equipment may have been earmarked for delivery at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia.

“We’re very appreciative of the (Sheriff’s) Department in getting justice,” said hospital spokeswoman Laura Young.

Why anyone would steal triage equipment remains a mystery for hospital staff.

“Our safety officer, Terry Stone, said it best: ‘These are not camping tents,’” Young said. “‘These are the types of tents we would use if we had an earthquake, and we had to provide emergency care.’”

Young said hospital staff considered using such equipment in the event of a H1N1 flu outbreak.

“These things are not useful to anyone” outside of the medical field, she added.

The stolen property does not belong to the hospital, Young explained, but rather to a vendor of medical supplies who works with the hospital.

“It’s terrible that someone had to suffer the loss of that equipment,” she said. “But the vendor is very happy, and we’re very happy.”

Harris said the stolen air-conditioning units hold a certain degree of resale value.

“These items are quite useful in other capacities,” he said, acknowledging that RV owners could certainly use them. “For instance, the film industry crews use them.

“As for the other items — the triage tents — those would be pretty tough to turn around.”

The J-Team is continuing its investigation and is in contact with the medical supplier based in Ohio.

Anyone with information may contact Sgt. Wachsmuth at (661) 277-2310.


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