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Arizona police searching for a man who allegedly stole 29 coronavirus test kits

(photo courtesy of Roche Diagnostics)

(CNN) — Tucson Police are asking the public to help identify a man suspected of stealing 29 unused COVID-19 test kits from an Arizona medical center.

The man entered the El Rio Health Center disguised as a delivery driver just before 8 p.m. Friday and allegedly took the test kits while employees prepared to close for the night, the police department said in a Facebook post. Employees noticed the kits were missing on Saturday morning and called police.

Police said the test kits are “essentially useless” to the suspect because they can only be tested in a “private lab equipped with the proper tools for testing and reading results.”

He is described as a Hispanic man in his 30s, between 5-foot-9-inches and 5-foot-11-inches tall and a large build. The man has a full, dark-colored beard with some graying, and surveillance video shows him leaving in a reddish Dodge Charger or similar style vehicle, police said.

The stolen test kits have already been replaced, police said, so the clinic’s testing abilities are not currently impacted. But officials in the hardest-hit states, such as New York and California, have warned about a shortage of tests and testing materials, and their focus has shifted to avoiding broad testing to conserve rapidly dwindling resources.

Tucson Police also told the public not to purchase any coronavirus or COVID-19 test kits for sale.

“It is a scam! There are currently no home test kits for the virus,” police said.

On its website, El Rio Health Center says it has postponed non-emergency dental visits and routine physicals and check-ups because of coronavirus.

Tucson is located in Pima County, which has 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.