SANTA ANA, Calif. – Businesses in Santa Ana are experiencing a surge in violent crime as suspects exploit a national recommendation to wear masks to prevent the spread of 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 announced a sweeping stay-at-home order in March.
A gas station clerk recounted his experience being held up at gunpoint by a masked thief last Friday at 2 a.m. The clerk said the suspect didn’t arouse suspicion since mask coverings have been normalized. As a result, the thief caught him off guard when he pulled a gun and took his cash before fleeing in a vehicle.
“It’s horrible,” the clerk said. “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.”
“It’s the norm,” Santa Ana Police Department spokesman Anthony Bertagna said. “So we’re seeing more and more suspects wearing the mask and using that to their benefit.”