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The robber wore a surgical mask. Is it a coronavirus trend?

Someone police described as ” person of interest” in a store robbery this month in Washington was shown in a video wearing a protective mask. (From D.C. police video)

A robber took cash at knifepoint early Friday on a street just east of Capitol Hill and fled, according to D.C. police, while disguising himself with an item that seems particularly relevant to the times. Police said he wore “a black surgical mask.”

At a time when facial coverings are recommended or required for curbing the novel coronavirus outbreak, a glance at D.C. police accounts and photos linked to recent crimes seems to show an at least anecdotally greater use of the type of mask intended as viral protection.

In earlier incidents, criminals seemed inclined to prevent recognition by leaning more often toward scarves, kerchiefs or ski masks.

In Friday’s incident, the robber approached a woman about 1:50 a.m. in the 1400 block of Pennsylvania Ave SE just after she had taken cash from an ATM.

Showing a long knife, according to police, he reached into her jacket, took $120 and ran off in dark clothing and the mask.

Surveillance footage in an April 14 shooting at 7:45 p.m. in the 1900 block of Gallaudet Street NE shows one “person of interest” in a white protective mask.

In addition, a “person of interest” in an April 7 store robbery in the 1100 block of U Street NW is shown in a video in a white protective mask.

Police video also shows a “person of interest” March 30 in a robbery in the 1300 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW. He wears not only a mask, but what appear to be disposable surgical gloves.

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