Increase in Shoplifting Since Face Masks Have Become the Norm

Experts agree that covering your mouth and nose with a mask helps stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people outside their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

The science behind mask wearing during a global pandemic is so sound, most stores require customers to wear them. But one unintended consequence of face coverings is that masks help conceal a person’s identity, leading Wyandotte police to believe that could be a reason for an increase in shoplifting incidents.

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“It has become the social norm to wear face coverings inside private businesses,” said Deputy Police Chief Archie Hamilton. “As a direct result, we have seen a substantial increase in retail fraud thefts.”

For that reason, an officer was watching CVS/pharmacy, 2025 Fort St., at about 11:50 PM January 23 when he witnessed a theft. Two men approached the store, one on foot and the other on a bicycle. The man on the bike remained outside, while a 47-year-old Lincoln Park man entered the store.

A few minutes later, the man quickly left the store with a large bulge underneath his coat. The two men fled west across Fort Street, where the officer attempted to stop them. The officer was able to detain the 47-year-old man, but the man on the bike fled north on Fort Street.

The officer located a stolen package of White Claw, an alcohol seltzer, under the man’s coat. Assisting officers were able to track down the guy on the bicycle several blocks away.

The suspected thief, who was charged with retail fraud, also had two outstanding warrants with the Wyandotte Police Department. The other man, a 24-year-old Lincoln Park resident, had several fugitive warrants for his arrest.

“From the perspective of law enforcement, mask wearing has created a challenge in regards to identifying offenders,” Hamilton said. “Prior to the pandemic, it was not socially acceptable to walk into businesses wearing face masks. In fact, a person wearing a mask inside a store would have raised eyebrows prior to the pandemic. Today, mask wearing has become socially acceptable, and the criminals are taking full advantage of it…”   News-Herald

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