- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2023

Face masked criminals whose identities are concealed are getting away with so many crimes in New York City that police are now asking store owners to refuse service to those who won’t first remove their facial coverings.

This is about as “no duh” a moment as can come.

If you’re a criminal, the face mask tyrants of COVID-19 years have been your best friends — your closest allies — your silent accomplices in crime. After all, prior to the coronavirus madness, it used to be illegal to walk about in many jurisdictions with facial coverings, save for religious reasons.

“It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer,” portions of Virginia Code 18.2-422 read.

Other states, including South Carolina, Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware and more, declare similarly — at least, other states did, until COVID came and common sense flew out the window and all the little people who felt powerless in their day-to-day lives suddenly found a way to unleash their inner lusts for control. Overnight it seemed the ignoramuses of the country were handed the ability to scream nonsensically across near-empty college campuses and hotel lobbies and recreational fields, “Put your mask on! Put your mask on! Put your mask on!” For fools, face mask regulations represented their Best Lives Ever.

For criminals, too.

“We’re seeing far too often where 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,” said New York Police Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, in The Blaze.

Well, that’s been going on for a while now.

“Increase in Criminal Use of Coronavirus Face Masks to Blend in While Committing Crimes, Police Warn,” Newsweek reported back in May 2020.

“A spate of mask-wearing criminals” hit Los Angeles, Crosstown wrote in November 2020.

That story went on to report that between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 of 2020, “there were 1,164 criminal incidents in which a suspect was wearing a mask” compared to the same period the previous year, when “there were just 200 reports.”

And the rise in face mask-wearing crimes wasn’t seen solely in America.

“Rise in suspects using face mask coverings to mask identity, say Kent police,” The Guardian wrote in April of 2021, of the southern England community.

New York City police want to reverse the criminal trend by bringing about a logical solution: Don’t let customers wear face masks. Don’t allow would-be criminals an easy way to avoid camera surveillance. Don’t embolden thieves and robbers — and worse — by handing them the tools to lawfully conceal their identities.

We already know face masks don’t work to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

So why give criminals such a free pass?

The solution is simple. Lawmakers and law enforcement need to revert to pre-COVID times when face coverings in public were illegal. It’s a safety issue. And it’s oh-so-easy to enforce.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter and podcast by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Lockdown: The Socialist Plan To Take Away Your Freedom,” is available by clicking HERE  or clicking HERE or CLICKING HERE.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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