Santa Ana Police: Robberies Soar 50% as Suspects Exploit Mask Recommendation

"It’s the perfect script or manual for a robber."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Lakshmiprasad S / EyeEm.

Santa Ana, California, is experiencing a surge in crime as suspects exploit a national recommendation to wear masks to prevent the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.

The Santa Ana Police Department told CBS News Los Angeles that the city has seen a 50 percent spike in robberies since California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a sweeping stay-at-home order in March. Speaking to the news outlet, one gas station clerk recounted how he was held up at gunpoint by a masked thief last Friday at 2 a.m.

The clerk said the suspect didn’t arouse suspicion because mask coverings are now the norm, allowing the thief to catch him off guard when he pulled a gun on him and took his cash before getting away in a silver Nissan Altima.

“It’s horrible,” the clerk lamented. “I mean, I know we have to take certain measures because of what’s happening with COVID-19, but it’s the perfect script or manual for a robber — the mask, the sunshade, and a hoodie. You don’t know who’s coming, who’s walking in.”

In April, one thief using a bandana to cover his face robbed a doughnut shop on Bristol. The suspect emptied both registers before fleeing the scene.

“It’s the norm,” conceded Corporal Anthony Bertagna. “So we’re seeing more and more suspects wearing the mask and using that to their benefit.”

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