Crime suspects harder to identify during pandemic, investigators say

In the era of the pandemic, many criminals have swapped out wearing a ski mask for wearing a regular COVID-19 mask, blending right in with the rest of the crowd. Houston police say this has complicated some criminal investigations.

Houston police robbery detectives say it’s been a real challenge this year trying to identify and catch criminals when everyone is wearing a mask.

“Quite frankly, this is a robber’s dream,” said Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers of Houston.


You wouldn’t find anything suspicious about the way these three guys in masks were dressed as they walked beneath a surveillance camera, but Houston Police say they are wanted for felony theft, after they stole several high-end items from a department store. The bottom halves of their faces are covered by masks just like everyone else, so it’s hard to make out who they are.

“When everybody’s wearing masks, that just compounds the difficulty of actually finding the suspect. So it’s been troublesome and it’s gonna continue to grow sadly,” said Kahan.


Kahan says this particular crime happened more than two months ago on August 16. Crime tips have sometimes been harder to come by, but there are often other identifiers investigators look for.

Houston police are hoping to catch an aggravated robbery suspect based on her hand tattoo which covers the top of her left hand. She was captured on gas station surveillance video September 5 when she robbed the store clerk.

Police are hoping to catch another masked bandit based on his forearm tattoos which appear to be paw prints. He’s wanted for felony theft after stealing from a department store in June and September.

Fortunately for investigators, COVID-19 masks have a way of sliding down, and that’s what happened to the man caught on camera burglarizing a business on September 14, so investigators are hopeful someone will recognize his face as well as his face and neck tattoos and turn him in.

“We just need a little bit more scrutiny that the public is going to have to look at before they can help call in a tip,” said Kahan.

If you do recognize any of the masked suspects who are still on the run, you can call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. All calls to their tip line are anonymous.