Virus Outbreak Masks crooks bad guys
This March 26, 2020 image from surveillance video shows a man, believed to be William Rosario Lopez wearing a surgical mask, with a gun in a Connecticut convenience store. Just how many criminals are taking advantage of the pandemic to commit crimes is impossible to estimate, but law enforcement officials have no doubt that the numbers are climbing. Reports are starting to pop up across the country, as well as in other parts of the world of crimes that were pulled off in no small part because so many of us are wearing masks. (U.S. District Court of Connecticut via AP)
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By Don Babwin and Stefanie Dazio, AP

The way the FBI tells it, William Rosario Lopez put on a surgical mask and walked into the Connecticut convenience store looking to the world like a typical pandemic-era shopper as he picked up plastic wrap, fruit snacks and a few other items. Then, when the only other customer left, he went to the counter, pulled out a small pistol, pointed it at the clerk and demanded that he open the cash register.

The scene, the FBI contends in a court document, was repeated by Lopez in four other gas station stores over eight days before his April 9 arrest. It underscores a troubling new reality for law enforcement: Masks that have made criminals stand apart long before bandanna-wearing robbers knocked over stagecoaches in the Old West and ski-masked bandits held up banks now allow them to blend in like concerned accountants, nurses and store clerks trying to avoid a deadly virus.

“Criminals, they’re smart and this is a perfect opportunity for them to conceal themselves and blend right in,” said Richard Bell, police chief in the tiny Pennsylvania community of Frackville. He said he knows of seven recent armed robberies in the region where every suspect wore a mask.

Across the United States, masks have become more and more prevalent, first as a voluntary precaution and then as a requirement imposed by governmental agencies and businesses. And people with masks — as well as latex gloves — have found their way into more and more crime reports.

Just how many criminals are taking advantage of the pandemic to commit crimes is impossible to estimate, but law enforcement officials have no doubt the numbers are climbing. Reports are starting to pop up across the United States and in other parts of the world of crimes pulled off in no small part because so many of us are now wearing masks.

In March, two men walked into Aqueduct Racetrack in New York wearing the same kind of surgical masks as many racing fans there and, at gunpoint, robbed three workers of a quarter-million dollars they were moving from gaming machines to a safe. Other robberies involving suspects wearing surgical masks have occurred in North Carolina, and Washington, D.C, and elsewhere in recent weeks.

The problem isn’t limited to robberies. In the troubled Cook County Jail in Chicago, the virus has led to at least nine deaths and sickened hundreds of inmates and correctional officers. Staffers must wear masks and inmates are issued a new one every day — a policy that helped one inmate escape on May 2.

Jahquez Scott, jailed on a gun charge and for violating his bond in a drug case, has tattoos of a small heart on one cheek and what looks like a blood-dripping scar on the other. But when he wore a mask, he posed as Quintin Henderson — who doesn’t have tattoos on his face and was scheduled to be released, authorities said.

Scott made it out, though he was captured a week later.

In addition to rare jailbreaks, the prevalence of masks in society has created other problems for law enforcement. Before life in a pandemic, masked marauders had to free their faces immediately after leaving a bank or store to avoid suspicion once in the general public. But it came with the risk of being photographed and identified through omnipresent surveillance cameras and cellphones.

These days, they can keep the masks on and blend in easily with or without being “captured” in images.

“The video is much less useful if we are unable to see a face,” said Carlos Marquez, a detective division commander in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, in an email.

It’s leaving law enforcement without a crucial crime-solving tool.

“Guys are like, ‘OK, I have to wear a mask, the police are not going to stop me on the way to a crime and back from a crime wearing a mask,’” said Brendan Deenihan, chief of detectives for Chicago Police Department. “Now if you are going to commit a crime you can leave your house with a mask on and drive for an hour.”

With everyone basically incognito, would-be witnesses might not notice someone acting differently, and that would make it harder to get a good description or identification of the suspect, said Eric Nuñez, chief of the Los Alamitos Police Department in Southern California and president of the California Police Chiefs Association.

It’s less likely now that other shoppers would “stare at them, just making mental notes of what they look like,” Nuñez said. “If they look like everybody else walking in, they may not do that at all.”

It’s a real problem for clerks and tellers, such as Tiffany Becker, who manages a Valero convenience store in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, where a number of stores in the area have been robbed by mask-wearing gunmen recently.

“Before I would have called the police because having a mask wasn’t normal. Now it’s normal,” Becker said. “It’s scary because you can’t tell who is safe and who’s not.”

Even when investigators identify suspects, the protective gear makes putting cases together all that much more difficult. The same latex gloves more people are wearing to protect themselves from picking up the virus will mean fewer fingerprints at crime scenes.

“In the past if you did a search warrant and you found surgical masks, that would be highly indicative of something (suspicious),” said FBI Special Agent Lisa MacNamara, who investigated the string of robberies in Connecticut that led to the arrest of Rosario Lopez. “Now everybody has masks or latex gloves.”

But the reverse can also be true.

MacNamara and her team’s investigation was made easier when his alleged accomplice went into the stores “acting as a lookout or ‘casing’ robbery locations.”

The accomplice hadn’t worn a mask.

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  1. They are issued to them when they are released early due to covid! Want the criminals to be safe of course.

    • While my neighbors have to scrounge their own before going to work at our local hospital because they are issued only ONE per week. Brilliant.

      • That is because healthcare workers can not sue everybody over 14th amendment rights.. Everyone here wants all amendments equally applied, right? Or do you want to pick and choose which ones are ok, and which are not, just like the left is doing?

  2. Look for joe biden to ask for serial numbers on masks. A background check and no home made masks.

    If it saves one liqour store……

    • One mask per month too. And your voice better be clear or you’ll need a NFA stamp.

      • ohh and add that 10 day wait per mask!

        no black masks with “speed’ handles or ‘high capacity’ nose holders.

        No boxes of masks over 10 EVER!

  3. Another success in the execution of Covid fraudemic.

    The disease is real.
    The dictatorship is real.
    The denial of our Constitutionally protected rights is real.
    The destruction of jobs, small businesses, and incomes is real.
    The deaths are real, but they are not all actual Covid caused.
    The depression, isolation, and desperation so many are experiencing are real.
    The necessity for all of the above is fraudulent.

    Time to say “No”.
    Say “No” to tyrants.

      • Enuf,

        Since you decided to be rude, I will engage an ad hominem attack: You are grumpy.

        • “You are grumpy.”

          And your mother never loved you, she was only acting like she did… 😉

          (I’m such a Meanie! 🙂 )

        • 88,675 confirmed dead so far. The actual number is a good deal larger.

          You delusional idiots spewing your “tyranny” bullshit are an obscenity, and the only fraud here.

          So fuck you and the delusional jackass you rode in on.

        • Enuf,
          According to the CDC’s website there have been 60,299 COVID19 deaths as of 15 May 2020, with an additional 26516 deaths that were attributed to pneumonia AND COVID19. This represents a 1% increase over the expected number of total deaths in the US which is about 7700 EVERY DAY according to the US Census Bureau.

          So was it really worth it?

        • @enuf Numbers matter. 87,315 deaths for 1,413,098 confirmed positives ( experts believe this should be doubled) equals 6% death rate ( 3% adjusted for doubling). I say so what.
          Average deaths per month in US, 234,458 equaling 1.17 million deaths in the same time span as the COVID-19 epidemic. To put it into perspective COVID-19 deaths are only 6% of total US deaths in five months.
          COVID-19 deaths are just a blip in the average day in the life in the US.
          They have ruined the economy and destroyed tens of thousands of small business over a bad flu season.

        • Enuf, you’re either a moron or a liar. Numbers matter, numbers that have destroyed the economy, numbers that have taken many other lives that otherwise would not have been lost, and numbers that we know have been artificially inflated by the medical profession, municipal, state, and the federal government. Numbers that have been used to trample the rights of the public, with no real end in sight. This was statistically a marginally bad flu season. Your troll accusations of people stating facts here exposes you as exactly that.

        • Yeah, but, all those dead are in the NE, why should I care? And I heard most died of drug overdoses or were shot by cops, so there’s that. And, was *what* really worth it?

        • Apparently I was not clear on my position as I was trying to be brief. The first remark was directed at Enuf.
          Was mitigating a 1% increase in total deaths (not statistically different from a severe flu season) worth shutting down the entire economy and the resulting increases in domestic violence, child abuse, homelessness, jobs permanently lost, illicit drug use, and depression?
          Hopefully this clears up my position.

      • WTF dude? LifeSavor is a decent guy. You might disagree with him but there is no reason to be a jackass about it.

        • There is neither fraud nor tyranny in the death toll of this pandemic.

          Anyone who claims there is is a fucking moron.

        • The left only knows anger and violence. In my youth one of the greatest insults you could lay on a man was that he was low class.

          The left are low class.

        • enuf, you claim the death toll is wildly inaccurate, then claim there is no fraud in it? I think you need to make up your mind!

        • Let’s see, at first there was a predicted mortality rate in the millions all because the prediction models they used were faulty to begin with.
          Second, they insisted masks for the general public would increase the risk of acquiring the virus, because the general population didn’t have the medical background to know how to properly wear a mask. It’s a low tech PPE mask that doesn’t require more than minimal instructions to wear, and the obviously False information that it would increase morbidity.
          Third, we now find that the actual mortality rate was over inflated by 15 to 35%, because the CDC tried to make every death that has occurred a CoVid death. Example, a guy tested positive for the virus, but what really killed him was the massive trauma from the car accident he was in, but hey, he’s a positive so CoVid killed him.
          Fourth, the amount and degree of misinformation from various Federal, State and Local governments, as well as the Media driven hysteria they’ve caused, should take anyone with a functioning brain question the entire narratives of this crisis.
          I could go on with more verified facts and observations, but you apparently lack the mental equipment to think for yourself, so if you want to be the dutiful little minion of the Left’s Reichsministry of Propaganda, then Seig Heil Brownshirt!

        • Sorry folks, my riposte was meant solely for “enuf,” but I inadvertently clicked on the wrong reply icon. My apologies to you all.

      • The potty mouth enuf should wear a cap that says, “Don’t Slap Poop Splatters.”

        • “LifeSavor”

          What a name for someone who pretends a massive toll of death and human suffering is all a fraud.

          So… All the doctors are wrong? All the scientists are wrong? All the county and city coroners and local through state and federal health agencies are somehow wrong? Or tricked into perpetrating a massive fraud in which nobody has died?

          And yet, somehow, you are not an idiot?

      • In retrospect, and I admit it could still be too early to say either, but I think the better option in the future would be to have a less stringent lock down. Instead of trying in vain to force people to shelter in place, instead we cancel all social events (sporting events, schools, concerts, public events, bars/clubs) and travel as was done, But let most people keep going to work with social distancing regs, and enforce a law that allows people to actually use their sick days. That way you limit the virus spread while not totally tanking the economy. Most people continue to work but will have to deal with not going to the club or county fair for a couple months.

        • Laughs!

          I have not had a PAID sick day in over 20 years….some jobs “just” don’t do it and if you do get sick…laidoff end of job!

          not kidding!

        • Hey Ron F-OFF—!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          I am not the employer who does that to their employees moron



      • “So out of 1,364,061 cases reported, here’s what we know.
        Of anyone aged 35-44 only 973 died. That’s a 0.07% death rate.
        Anyone aged 45-54 2,772 died or a 0.2% death rate. That’s 2 tenths of one percent.
        Anyone aged 55-64 there was 6,725 that died. That’s still only a 0.49% death rate. That’s less than 1/2 of one percent.
        What’s NOT included in this data is how many of those who died already had serious other health issues, but we have to assume it’s a lot.
        Also this is ASSUMING the 1,364,061 is accurate. We have to believe that number is WAY under reported. All experts say most people are asymptomatic and are never even tested.
        So for the sake of argument, lets say about 2.5 times that amount in the US is more accurate, like 3,250,000 are infected (it’s probably even much higher than that).
        If that’s true, than the rates of death are even much smaller. (Pick the 55-62 age group, then that’s only 0.2% death rate.)”

        cdc numbers, from secondcitycop

      • Enuf, confirmed Covid deaths my A@s. The test for Covid is at best 70% accurate. This is not conspiracy theory. Hospitals have been caught inflating Covid numbers. They have financial incentive to do so. This is not conspiracy theory. Even the CDC substantially revised its Covid numbers down in an attempt to retain some credibility. Are you intentionally this stupid?

    • Colorado lowered it’s Chinese virus death numbers by almost 1000. Due to the fact that they were previously counting deaths by other causes as Chinese virus deaths. If the deceased tested positive for the Chinese virus. How many other states are counting the same way?

      • They all do it. Covid Cash comes fom DC. Otherwise they deal with insurance and uninsured patients.
        They did a poor job qualifying the payments.

      • All of them.
        As Elon Musk said, if you get run over by a bus, test positive and die, you are counted as a covid victim. Gotta get those numbers up to properly scare the people into docile sheep.

        Still, it looks like we screwed up our economy, that ran better than ever, because of 4-5 percent increase in mortality.

        • Everyone is also forgetting all of the COVID antibody test studies. Everywhere they test, they find that the virus is much more widespread than the official numbers suggest, which suggests a much lower death rate. According to all the studies out there, the mortality rate is between .1% and .9%. If you just average out the results from the various antibody test estimates, you get approximately .5% mortality rate for COVID. That puts it on par with the death rate for the annual flu. If you also look at the data, specifically in Massachusetts, 85% of deaths are people 80 years old and older. While we did not know anything initially about COVID, many states are drastically overreacting now that we have more data points. All current data we have now points to this being, at worse, a bad flu season. Keeping everything shut down, in the long run, will cause more deaths (from suicides, supply disruptions, destitution, closures of business, etc.). We don’t shut down everything for the flu (2018/2019 Flu season caused 120,000 deaths), and we shouldn’t.

        • You don’t have to test positive in order to be counted as a covid victim. If you had the typical symptoms, then it is counted as such, without a test. There are doctors on the record stating this.

      • Blunt force trauma but autopsy/doc suggests even “Possible kungflu” and it get listed as a KungFlu death.

        This is not a secret but it is a way to get money from Feds…which is our money but wth that’s how the game is played.

        Sometime you don’t know what actually killed someone..lifetime obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease are all factors ect but right now Covid-19 gets listed as primary cause.

      • Italy has revised it Covid deaths down some 80%. The jackassery here is almost funny.

        • Uh, where exactly did you get that number? Just making stuff up on the Internet again?

    • I don’t know about all that man, things are pretty much getting back to normal across much of the country. Businesses are opening back up with social distancing. Bars, theaters, and clubs are still closed but those places suck anyway.

      • The damage has already been done. A major restaurant near me is closing for good. They always did a ton of business before the virus.

      • The economic damage done will take years to undo, if even possible. We haven’t even begun to feel the economic impact of massive number of unemployed and growing small business failures. Just wait for unemployment benefits to start running out.

  4. Wearing a mask with your nose uncovered. Is like wearing a condom with the tip cut off.

  5. Meanwhile the police put all hands on deck to hunt some Tom Green wannabe who wore a Klan hood in a supermarket for the lulz.

  6. “Even when investigators identify suspects, the protective gear makes putting cases together all that much more difficult.”

    Easy solution. Simply make it illegal to wear a mask when engaged in a crime.

    Problem solved.

    • I was thinking we should simply make crime illegal, then put up “no crime allowed” signs.

    • Same stupidity comes from “you morons” about everything. Lets just make it illegal for politicians to lie then they won’t do it.

      In what you said earlier, “There is neither fraud nor tyranny in the death toll of this pandemic.Anyone who claims there is is a fucking moron.”

      You sir again are a moron. If someone died in a car accident they test positive for the virus it is listed as such. It is inflating the numbers. it is LYING by the wanna be tyrants. When wannabe dictators keep changing the rules. We need a vaccine, then it we need more than one, then we need a cure.

      Idiots like you with TDS and CDS, want the US to fall if it means the socialists win. I think your mom is calling you, your mac and cheese is ready.

  7. My county commission made it mandatory to wear masks in public several weeks ago. I haven’t been in a grocery store since March 16th. Corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. Plenty of everything else with no panic buying. I was given a mask day before yesterday. Wore it yesterday at Subway. No drive thru. One time. Once! I’m watching the local news and eating my sandwich and they announced the mandatory mask order is lifted. I threw it away this morning. When I was in the army we called this shit eye wash. Looks good. Doesn’t do anything.

    • I don’t know if there ever was a mandatory mask order where I live but now most people aren’t bothering with them. A couple weeks ago when the panic was still extreme I wore my M40.

    • Gadsden,

      “When I was in the army we called this shit eye wash. ”

      Yup. Just like the Hokey-Pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

  8. It’s kinda funny because the other day as I was walking out of the grocery store and guy was rushing in with a mask on and he said to me jokingly as he passed by me (I think he was joking) that he was going to rob the place. I stopped and turned around, paused a second and told him bluntly, “you’d get shot and killed” He looked a little taken back by my bluntness but firm sincerity and said “you carry concealed?” I pulled up the front of my shirt exposing my Sig 229 with those rosewood grips I carry.
    I’m quite sure he was joking and I’m rather sure if he would reconsider even thinking about doing a robbery as he understands that you never know who might put a round in the side your your head while pulling some stupid BS like a robbery.

    • You SHOWED him your gat?!? Pretty sure that’s brandishing in my crappy state…😃

      • Depends on the conditions. He asked if I was carrying. That was the answer. Now if I was doing it to intimate him, that would be entirely different. Here’s the appropriate RCW 9.41.270
        (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.

        Also, putting my hand on it or drawing it would be a big no no. Cops always ask if the person did that.

        The fact of the matter is any time I open carry someone is ALWAYS asking what gun I carry. Guys like guns and want to see them. He asked if I was carrying, lifting up my shirt and showing him doesn’t even come close to meeting the elements of a crime. I’m not new at this.

        • If you’re planning to intimate him without permission, I’m pretty sure that’s rape. Which would intimidate me.

  9. There has never been a time when we’ve been able to walk into a bank with a gun and a mask and not be arrested.

    What a great time to be alive!

    • Most of the banks frown on open carry. I know US Bank does and will send you a letter about it and Costco says no firearms and will deny you entry if they see you carrying. I don’t think I’d walk into any of the banks around here open carrying especially with a mask on. Two guys shooting the shit with nobody nearby is one thing, walking into a bank open carrying and with a mask on is asking for excessive attention. That’s like that bozo that went to Walmart with an AR after the Walmart shooting. There’s smarter things to do.

      • My bank specifically has a sign that says “please be respectful, don’t open carry”. Which is fairly nice. I’ve never seen anything at a Costco saying anything about guns, and I’m armed every time I go in there.

        Granted, “no gun” signs have no force of law anyway, so even if these places did forbid, it wouldn’t matter to me one bit.

        • Read the fine print of your Costco agreement. Costco is anti 2A and they can unilaterally terminate your membership if you open carry…”you’re scaring / intimidating other members”.

      • I’ve seen/talked to folks OCing in the Tumwater Costco, maybe Lacey.

        Lately I’ve noticed an uptick of OC. Walmart, farmstand store, etc.

        I’m always CCing in all these places.

        • I haven’t seen any signs, not that that would stop me, but OGinMT is correct about the “fine print”.

  10. In a time of pandemic and of widespread use of facial recognition and warrantless suspicionless location tracking, a mask is just another tool of self-protection and privacy, even if some criminals use it for evil.

    What people aren’t asking, though, is where is a government granted any authority to forcibly impose or deny the use of a mask?

    • I wouldn’t want to destroy my peripheral vision like that while committing a crime. Also, using a unique, modified vehicle during the commission of a crime is beyond stupid.

  11. It makes me laugh a bit when I do deliveries to old people in my neighborhood.

    In the cases where they have cameras I think to myself “Three months ago this guy would be thinking that I’m here to rob the place and racking a slide or pump when he saw someone get out of a car in the driveway and put on this respirator.”

    I also laugh when I see security cameras now. All that money in hardware, and in some cases facial recognition software, doesn’t buy shit these days.

    • Back in the early 90’s a buddy of mine was riding his motorcycle back and forth to work in late October. He pulled into a gas station to fuel up. While standing at the pump. Three cop cars came screaming into the lot. Cops jumped out and ran into the store. After a couple of minutes one came out and walked up and asked him if he was going to rob the store. Looking confused. He realized he still had a bandana over his face because it was cold out. Luckily nothing became of the situation. So yes times have changed as far as face coverings go. The Thugs will take advantage of that fact long after this shit is over.

      • Heh. That must have been both fun and amusing for him.

        Yeah, motorcyclists do things that people who don’t ride will never understand. There was an article here a while back about a guy rocking a faceshield on his bike and getting the cops called on him because he was near a school.

        People figured there was no reason to wear that shield. Yeah, well, bugs taste like shit and sometimes they hurt too. Things come up off the road that hurt/taste bad. No, you can’t stop them from getting in your mouth without a covering because they hit your lips at speed.

        I always wear a full face helmet and a “buff” on my neck. Why the buff? Because taking a bumble bee to the throat at 60+ mph hurts like hell, even if you don’t get stung. Hurts the bee worse than it does you but… still.

        • found myself looking for discarded smoky treats after catching bees with an open jacket.
          a little ‘bacco an’ spittle on the sting and valet! learned that trick from the ol’ snagfishin’ railbirds lined up for chinook.

        • Oh, yeah, got a wasp down the back of the shirt while riding with the lady on the back, hit me 3 times before I got stopped and let the little shit out.

  12. How is it possible to rob an “Aqueduct Racetrack in New York”? I thought the dimwit governor of NY shut the state down. NO UNESSENTIAL BUSINESS. Gambling is essential to fund NY gov and the mb?

  13. Enuf: Just use the terms you used to describe these guys on you,

    Elective surgery kills approximately 98,000 people in the US per year. There are many other examples.

    Troll: You must work for Bloomie.

    • Medical “misadventure” kills well over 100K people per year in the US, with medication mis-administration being a large part of that.

      What this episode with COVID-19 exposes, however, are the liberals who suffer from a surfeit of solipsism. They think themselves terribly important, and think that any imagined threat to their sordid, perverted lives requires a complete accommodation by the rest of the universe to perpetuate their continued blight upon humanity.

      Sorry, liberals. Graveyards are filled with men who believed themselves indispensable. One day, you’ll be worm chow yourselves. Until then, enjoy every sandwich.

  14. The real question is “Why in the hell is the FBI investigating a string of gas station robberies?” It doesn’t even sound like they crossed state lines, but no matter, the Federal government is not supposed to have any general police powers. I don’t care if the guy robbed 1000 gas stations, it is for the state to handle, not the Feebs.

  15. Two approaches Batman way, trap door, bad guy falls in laundry shut ( to be washed clean of his Sins, PTL amen), or the possum way, directional pipe bonumbs in front of the cash register. The LAW needs to keep the fckk off

  16. If you own a business, and you’re not DOING BUSINESS you are being pathetic sheep….


  17. Exactly what did you expect . Give them freedom and a mask , did you think they were going to church and confess their sins . They are criminals after all .

  18. “Criminals, they’re smart and this is a perfect opportunity for them to conceal themselves and blend right in,” said Richard Bell, police chief in the tiny Pennsylvania community of Frackville.

    Au contraire mon frere….the vast majority of criminals are pretty stupid. Many are downright dumb as a rock. The small number of actual intelligent bad guys aren’t robbing convenience stores and you’ll likely never see one in Frackville. The combined IQ of every bad guy I’ve arrested wouldn’t qualify as “smart”. They’re dumb, usually really dumb. That’s why they are doing what they are doing. When you combine stupidity with no sense of self respect, honor or goodness you get these folks.

    Sorry chief Bell, using a mask to try and conceal your identity (which was even poorly executed in the example) isn’t intelligence at work.

    On a side note – always be armed. In almost every self defense case the police arrive afterwards and can NOT protect you. Not their fault, bad things go bad fast. If you believe there will be an armed police officer to save you during that split second when lives are taken you’re living in a fantasy and will likely pay with your life if you happen to be that random person in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

  19. As if one needed another reason to carry, this is it. Need to up our situational awareness too. Pay closer attention to hands and eyes.

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