Masked knifeman robs store on first day of mandatory face coverings

A retailer in England was subjected to a horrific knife attack on the very first morning that face coverings became compulsory in stores south of the border.

Rikki Patel, of RNP News in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, was held up at knifepoint on 24 July at 06.30. A masked and gloved thug ransacked the till before making off with £100.

A passer-by saw the bandit hurrying out of the store and rushed to help Rikki, who had already pushed a panic button. Police officers were on the scene 15 minutes later, however the offender was not located. Enquiries into the incident are ongoing.

The terrifying incident was captured by the store’s CCTV camera.

Rikki’s husband Nilesh was at home while she opened the store. He said: “The hooded attacker entered the store with a mask on and dawdled around the shop for a moment, before approaching the till and attacking Rikki.

“Rikki immediately held her hands up and opened the till.”

Understandably, Rikki is now too afraid to be in the store alone.

Commenting on the new face mask regulations and the risks involved, Nilesh said: “Usually, you are able to notice someone that is intentionally covering their face and ask them to remove their mask or show their face.

“Because of the new regulations you can’t tell who is genuine and who is not, so it’s far easier for criminals to go unnoticed.

“I understand that the government has made face masks compulsorily to protect everyone against Covid-19, but why now instead of when the virus was at its peak?”

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN)’s National President Stuart Reddish said: “It is unfortunate that the steps being taken to protect the local community during the coronavirus pandemic have also helped this criminal protect their identity when committing this appalling attack.

“The new face mask regulations in England and Scotland undoubtedly make it easier for attackers to commit crimes against retailers.”