An orange illustration of a silhouette of a masked criminal wearing a white N95 face mask.
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A Spate of Mask-Wearing Criminals

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Note: This article first appeared on Crosstown and is shared with their permission in partnership with Los Angeleno. You can subscribe to Crosstown for crime, traffic and air quality news here.

At least more crime suspects are following the mask order.

The public health directive urging people to wear face coverings in public appears to have had an unintended impact: Crimes in which the suspect was wearing a mask have increased nearly fivefold.

From Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, there were 1,164 criminal incidents in which a suspect was wearing a mask, according to Los Angeles Police Department data. During the same time period last year, there were just 200 reports.

Don’t expect the trend to reverse itself soon. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom tightened the directive even more, requiring people to wear face coverings when they are outside. Though not everyone has been complying with the order, a good number of crime suspects apparently have been. The sharp rise in mask-wearing suspects comes as overall crime has fallen by 10%. Robbery and burglary — two categories commonly associated with mask-wearing perpetrators — decreased by 15% and 12%, respectively.

The proliferation of mask usage in criminal reports began in March, when the coronavirus started spreading rapidly across Los Angeles and elected leaders and health officials ordered the shutdown of many businesses. That month there were 56 reports of mask-wearing suspects, more than double the monthly average.

Then the numbers began soaring: There were 168 in April, 188 in May and a high of 205 reports in June. Figures have diminished since then, but there continues to be more than 100 reports of a mask-wearing suspect in the city each month.

Read more on Crosstown.

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