San Diego Police Department

Masks Gave Criminals Confidence to Steal, Store Owner Says

A Logan Heights convenience store is experiencing more crime, employees say, due to mask wearing

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During the health emergency it might be tough to tell the good guys apart from the bad guys when almost everyone is wearing a mask.

Employees at a Logan Heights convenience store said criminals used the expectation of facial coverings to their advantage during a brazen theft that turned violent.

At the V-D Market, employee Alan Mikhael retraced the steps a couple criminals had taken over the weekend.

"She opened this door. She grabbed this beer," said Mikhael, as he recounted where two women took beer from the refrigerator at the back of the store. Mikhael saw the women stash the beers on the store surveillance cameras.

Most know facial coverings are encouraged during the pandemic. Unfortunately, Mikhael and store manager Yazmany Moscoso believe they are what gave the two women more confidence to simply walk out with an 18 pack of beer.

“Because people take advantage of it. They cover your face. It’s less likely you’ll recognize them,” said Moscoso.

Mikhael was behind the register counter and jumped out to stop the women.

“I just opened the door. I take the beer. I tell her get out,” said Mikhael.

One woman got away while the other pulled out her pepper spray and sprayed Mikhael in the eyes. Then, as the outside surveillance cameras recorded, a third person jumped out of the car that pulled up along the curb outside ran inside and threw a can at Mikhael.

“My first thought was I’m glad he’s OK and I’m glad he didn’t get stabbed or shot,” said Moscoso.

All of that was for $12 worth of beer. Moscoso filed a police report and shared his story to warn others. Even though it wasn’t a huge loss, he said its more about the act during a time like this.

“In reality, they’re taking advantage of the whole situation itself, with the whole pandemic going on. Covered face, it’s an easy crime to them. But it’s not. Technology has advanced. They will get caught,” said Moscos.

The suspects, if caught, will face robbery charges. A spokesperson for the San Diego police Department told NBC 7 they are not seeing an increase crime connected to mask wearing.

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