The New York Police Department is asking store owners to refuse service to customers unless they take off their masks and show their faces in order to help the police battle a massive robbery spree.
NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said that the masks are allowing robbers to escape detection by police through security footage.
“We’re seeing far too often were people are coming up to our businesses, sometimes with masks, sometimes masks, hoods and latex gloves, and they’re being allowed, they’re being buzzed in and allowed to enter the store and we have a robbery,” Maddrey said.
In order to help the cops identify robbers, Maddrey wants store owners to place conditions on shoppers.
“We are asking the businesses to make this a condition of entry, that people when they come in, they show their face, they should identify themselves,” he explained.
Some owners say doing so would put them in greater danger from having to confront customers with masks.
“We don’t have a weapon to defend ourselves,” said Bronx bodega owner Francisco Marte to WABC-TV. “That would be great, everyone come with their face up so the camera can see, we all can see. But we cannot force them to take off the mask.”
Marte says he has been shot three times. He’s also planning to upgrade his security to include facial recognition software.
Grocery store customers told WABC that they have noticed an uptick in crime and want officials to do something about it.
“They have to try to do something to try to bring the crime down because it’s out of control,” shopper Norma Jean said. “I don’t remember it being this bold and in your face.”
Other shoppers said they got used to wearing masks during the pandemic, which ravaged New York City.
“I would say I’d be kind of offended because it’s my own way of feeling safe and I got really used to it through the pandemic,” explained shopper Emmanuel Celestrino.
CAPS, an organization representing thousands of independent grocers across New York City, has called on officials to increase punishments against “repeat theft offenders” after they were lessened in a controversial bail reform law in 2019.
“We have been assaulted, terrorized, and our physical and mental health jeopardized,” the group said in a letter to the mayor and the New York governor. “A rise in larceny cases has hit independent supermarkets hard.”
Here’s a news video about the robbery spree:
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