The Santa Ana Police Department in California says that robberies have increased by 50% during state lockdown measures — and that suspects are reportedly using face coverings to remain undetected.
In a Thursday statement, Santa Ana police said that robberies across the city have spiked in the months during lockdown.
Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department told KCBS-TV said that robberies carried out by masked suspects are becoming more and more commonplace as the days go by.
“It’s the norm,” Bertagna said. “So we’re seeing more and more suspects wearing the mask and using that to their benefit.”
KCBS reported, “Police said they were not exactly sure why there has been such an increase in robberies, but said it could be related to the number of inmates released from area jails due to the pandemic.”
Elias Khawan, a local gas station owner, said that face coverings are helping to not only conceal a person’s identity, but their motive.
“We’re sitting here not knowing who’s going to walk through that door,” Khawan said.
“It’s horrible,” he continued. “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.”
The store owner also said that he began cutting the store hours to maintain the safety of him and his employees.
“They’re very scared,” he said of his workers. “I have two employees who said, ‘No, we don’t want to work at nighttime.'”