For residents panicking over a viral disease circling the globe and hoping for stricter government intervention, California’s Orange County answered their prayers.
Unfortunately for those living in the county, the mandate requiring many people to wear a face mask has also been a stroke of luck for criminals, some of whom may have been recently released in an attempt to thin crowded jails.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors originally voted late last month to institute the mandate, which took effect on April 24, according to The Orange County Register.
The rule requires many retail workers who have close contact with the public to wear a face covering.
Under the order, cashiers, gas station attendants, waiters and others must wear a mask, KCBS-TV reported.
While the order applies to workers within Orange County, certain cities in the county have enacted even stricter measures, with some requiring all residents and visitors to cover their faces.
Needless to say, the anonymizing accessories are now a common sight in the area.
This may be why a Santa Ana gas station clerk wasn’t alarmed when a man in a face mask and high-visibility vest strolled into his convenience store at around 2 a.m. on May 8.
Accompanied by another man in a safety yellow vest but with no mask, the pair of potential customers could have been returning from a job site or a factory.
Any theories about the two men’s professional lives were instantly shattered when the maskless man pulled out a pistol and pointed it directly at the cashier.
The other thief quickly cleaned the store’s register of cash.
“It’s horrible,” store owner Elias Khawan told KCBS.
“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 threat of violent robberies is causing Khawan more than just what thieves are able to pry from his cash box.
To better safeguard his employees and property, the owner recently cut his convenience store’s hours.
Now instead of offering weary travelers snacks and other essentials all night long, Khawan will close his doors two hours before midnight.
The move may keep his nerves at ease, but the measure is costly — the lean hours have shriveled his bottom line by 25 percent.
Khawan isn’t alone in dealing with the inevitable fallout from government action, either. Last month, a masked criminal robbed a nearby doughnut shop. Although he cleared two cash registers, his face covering virtually guaranteed anonymity.
According to KCBS, Santa Ana police confirmed Thursday that the city’s robberies have indeed increased by a whopping 50 percent during the lockdown.
While it’s unclear exactly what factors are behind the shocking jump in crime, authorities have speculated that mass inmate releases (in Orange County, nearly 1,000 were released from jails in March over fear of a potential viral outbreak) could be a contributing factor.
Right now, it appears the widespread use of masks is giving criminals an easy way to avoid detection and continue their illicit careers.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.