The New York Police Department (NYPD) has encouraged store owners to refuse service to masked customers — asking them to make shoppers remove masks and show their faces in order to help the police in their fight against skyrocketing crime.
NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey stated that masks are allowing robbers to escape identification by law enforcement in security footage.
“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,” the NYPD chief said.
Maddrey went on to request that store owners assist police in their efforts to identify these thieves by placing conditions on customers.
“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 business owners are pushing back on that advice, arguing that telling customers to remove their masks will put them in danger of starting a confrontation.
One bodega owner in the Bronx, Francisco Marte, told a local news outlet that this move would be especially dangerous considering the fact that New York does not allow citizens their Second Amendment rights.
“We don’t have a weapon to defend ourselves,” Marte told WABC-TV. “That would be great, everyone comes with their face up so the camera can see, we all can see. But we cannot force them to take off the mask.”
The bodega owner also revealed that he has already been shot three times, and plans to upgrade his security to include facial recognition software.
Meanwhile, grocery store customers told the local outlet that they have noticed an increase in crime, and demanded that officials take action to address the problem.
“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 that they are still using the masks as essentially a safety blanket because they got used to wearing them during the pandemic and still fear getting sick — as the pandemic ravaged New York City despite the government’s authoritarian mandates.
“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,” shopper Emmanuel Celestrino said.
CAPS, an organization that represents thousands of independent grocers in New York City, has written a letter to Mayor Eric Adams (D) and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) demanding that officials increase punishments against “repeat theft offenders” after the city lowered the punishments in their 2019 bail reform law. That controversial legislation has been heavily criticized as yet another instance of New York City being “soft on crime.”
“We have been assaulted, terrorized, and our physical and mental health jeopardized,” the group wrote. “A rise in larceny cases has hit independent supermarkets hard.”