Face masks are making the ‘perfect cover’ for crime

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 says 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 are the “new normal,” and Sgt. Ryan Abbott says criminals are taking advantage.

“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.

Detectives say it’s happening nationwide.

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 certain measure because of COVID-19, but it’s the perfect script or manual for robber,” 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 says it’s continuing to investigate and make arrests in 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.”