Man charged after 42,000 rapid Covid tests stolen: 'Disgusting'

Four men were arrested on Wednesday after 42,000 Covid-19 rapid antigen tests loaded on pallets were stolen from a Sydney freight depot.

One of the men is due to front court on Thursday charged with dishonestly obtaining property by deception while the other three have been released pending further investigations.

Inquiries led police to a Rosebery storage facility on Wednesday afternoon where several items were seized after executing search warrants on two units.

The three released males were arrested at the facility, with the fourth man, aged 27, later arrested at Mascot Police Station. He was refused bail.

One of the men arrested is led away by police (left), with the allegedly stolen haul pictured right. Source: NSW Police
A man will front court on Thursday over the allegedly stolen batch. Source: NSW Police

On Thursday, NSW Police released images of the men being arrested and of the allegedly stolen goods.

It is alleged the crates were loaded into a vehicle at Mascot on Tuesday afternoon.

The tests, which were procured by the NSW government, have a value of $500,000.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet described the alleged theft as a "disgusting act".

Australia is facing a shortage of rapid antigen tests, which have been introduced as an efficient, alternative method of testing after state governments struggled to cope with the demand for PCR testing amid the recent Omicron surge.

Several boxes of rapid antigen tests allegedly found at the storage unit. Source: NSW Police
Boxes of rapid antigen tests allegedly found at the storage unit. Source: NSW Police

However, unlike other countries such as the UK, they are not provided free of charge by the state, with only certain residents qualifying for free tests.

While the tests routinely sell for between $10 to $30 each, reports have suggested they're being advertised for several hundred dollars in areas where supply is severely restricted.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned against price gouging while the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said businesses and individuals could face heavy fines if caught inflating prices.

ACCC chair Rod Sims said prices over $20 per test were "extremely concerning" while anything over $30 is "beyond outrageous".

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