Coronavirus: Face masks are making the ‘perfect cover’ for crime

Coronavirus Face masks are making the ‘perfect cover’ for crime, police say

KING COUNTY, Wash. — The very item meant to keep people safe during the pandemic is now giving thieves the perfect cover.

The King County Sheriff’s Office said more crimes are being committed by people wearing face masks. While it may have been a red flag before the pandemic, face covering inside businesses is the “new normal,” and Sgt. Ryan Abbott says criminals are taking advantage.

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“We’re starting to see the same trend with almost any type of crime you could think of,” he said, “because now people can wear masks everywhere and they're not looked at strangely.”

In Auburn, two masked thieves were caught on camera stealing a rifle and a Mercedes. Another man in King County is wanted after spreading two masks across his face to hide his identity while stealing from a gas station. Homeowners captured video of a porch pirate in Snohomish County putting a bandana on his face right before walking up to the house.

In Santa Ana, California, robbers with face coverings recently terrorized a series of stores, like Elias Khawan’s gas station.

“It’s horrible. I know we have to (take) certain measures because of COVID-19, but it’s the perfect script or manual for robbers,” he said. “Mask, sunshade and a hoodie, that’s it. You don’t know who’s coming, who’s walking in.”

While it creates difficulty tracking suspects down, the King County Sheriff’s Office said it’s continuing to investigate and make arrests for these crimes.

“You can’t change the way you walk, the way you talk, your mannerisms and that type of thing,” Abbott said. “We’re still able to identify a lot of these people, but it could take a little bit longer.”

This March 26, 2020 image from surveillance video shows a man, believed to be William Rosario Lopez wearing a surgical mask, with a gun in a Connecticut convenience store. Just how many criminals are taking advantage of the pandemic to commit crimes is impossible to estimate, but law enforcement officials have no doubt that the numbers are climbing. Reports are starting to pop up across the country, as well as in other parts of the world of crimes that were pulled off in no small part because so many of us are wearing masks. (U.S. District Court of Connecticut via AP)
This March 26, 2020 image from surveillance video shows a man, believed to be William Rosario Lopez wearing a surgical mask, with a gun in a Connecticut convenience store. Just how many criminals are taking advantage of the pandemic to commit crimes is impossible to estimate, but law enforcement officials have no doubt that the numbers are climbing. Reports are starting to pop up across the country, as well as in other parts of the world of crimes that were pulled off in no small part because so many of us are wearing masks. (U.S. District Court of Connecticut via AP) (The Associated Press/AP)