Masks on, and be vigilant

While the face masks are a shield against the virus, they could also be a weapon for the evil-minded

Pic RAZAK GHAZALI

SOME of us started wearing face masks during the annual haze season. Not popular, but they were socially acceptable.

Thanks (or no thanks) to the pandemic, many governments around the world have now made the use of face masks mandatory.

Although we complained about it at first, we have now gotten used to it. Like many other things and practices, wearing face masks is a new norm where it is now a part of our daily attire.

Most of us now have more than one piece of reusable fabric face masks in different styles and designs to suit our styles, for different occasions.

Meanwhile, those not wearing face masks are looked upon suspiciously, or even frowned upon for their insensitivity.

But beware. This latest attire requirement or fashion statement might be taken advantage of by criminals, and crime is, in fact, on the rise.

The pandemic has brought with it job losses, and during desperate times, many have taken desperate measures.

Home and car break-ins have been reported to take place in broad daylight, and it is hard to call out suspicious individuals just because they are wearing face masks — until it is too late.

Take these two incidents which had taken place in real life, but with names changed upon requests of anonymity.

In the first instance, “Sarah” walked into a bank which had a row of about six cash withdrawal and deposit machines. There was nobody else there.

While performing her transaction, a man walked in and stood behind Sarah as if lining up for his turn — which was unnecessary since all the other machines were available.

After her transaction was completed, Sarah made her way to the exit. So, did the man.

Feeling uneasy, Sarah turned around sharply and looked at the man squarely in the face, which was half-covered by his mask.

Not expecting this “confrontation”, the man busied himself with his phone. He may not have had any evil plans, and Sarah wondered if she had overreacted, but later decided that one can never be too careful. Better to be rude than a victim of theft, or worse.

Another situation was at a condominium where “Ahmad” lived. Walking home from lunch, he noticed an individual pacing back and forth near the guardhouse.

Ahmad opened the gate with his resident’s access card and as he walked through, so did the person at the guardhouse who had followed closely behind Ahmad.

Once in the condominium compounds, he walked quickly past Ahmad. With his face mask and a hat securely on, only his eyes were visible. So, if he were up to no good, there was not much that the surveillance cameras could reveal.

When he saw reports of car break-ins from within condominium parking lots in the neighbourhood, Ahmad wondered if he should have immediately alerted the security guards that day, of the person who seemed to be waiting for a resident to open the gate for him.

We are now putting so much focus on Covid-19 and how to prevent it that we have put our guards down against other threats.

While the face masks are a shield against the virus, they could also be a weapon for the evil-minded.

  • Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor at The Malaysian Reserve.

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