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Knifeman used PPE mask in terrifying shop robbery as businesses are left in fear

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Councillor Mannix Flynn

Councillor Mannix Flynn

Councillor Mannix Flynn

Opportunistic criminals are taking advantage of the use of face masks by the public.

Business owners are concerned about crime during Covid-19 after an attempted raid on a shop saw a robber donning a mask while brandishing a knife.

The store owner, who witnessed the attempted robbery last week, is highlighting the issue to warn business owners that some criminals are taking advantage of the pandemic and the wearing of masks to disguise themselves.

"An individual came into the shop wearing a full facial mask," the shop owner told the Herald.

"He was carrying a knife, demanding the till be opened. The worker handled the situation really well. I was in the office. The staff member wouldn't do what he was told to do.

"He was very brave. There's a Perspex barrier and that helped but it was still very scary."

The raider was scared off when staff members came to their colleague's aid. However, the shop owner, who was too afraid to be identified, is concerned about the issue of criminals using masks to carry out crimes.

On Friday, the Government urged the public to start wearing masks in shops and on public transport.

Concerned

Now both the shop owner and Independent Dublin city councillor Mannix Flynn are concerned there will be more criminals using the pandemic as a backdrop for crime.

"A lot of people could be wearing face masks from now on, which is a big problem," the shop owner said.

They are also concerned about prisoners released from jail during the pandemic.

It has been claimed some of these have been placed into accommodation into the city centre.

The shop owner said: "Dublin city is like a zombie land at night. There's no one around but these people are looking for drugs.

"We're dealing with an increase in shoplifting and the face masks are now being used as disguises to commit crimes."

Mr Flynn said he's been contacted about a "serious volume of robberies" in the city centre, north and south.

"These have included robberies being carried out by perpetrators in masks," Mr Flynn said.

"The Government hasn't thought about the situation we're in where some criminals are using the masks to commit crime. I know a lot of people are wearing the masks to stop the spread of the virus but there are a minority doing so for villainous reasons."

The councillor said he's actually witnessed people "selling and taking" drugs in the city centre during the pandemic.

He claimed drugs are a particular problem among those living in hostels.

"There's a greater sense of hostility in the city centre since the pandemic," Mr Flynn said.

"While we're being restricted in movement, there's not much policing and management of this issue. Communities are having to face hostility never faced before, together. The mask issue has to be addressed.

"There's a lot of fear from businesses and city centre residents right now."

Gardai confirmed the robbery at a shop on Thursday afternoon, saying: "A male armed with a weapon entered the shop and demanded the contents of the till."