NORWOOD, The Bronx (WABC) -- New York City shop owners are finding themselves in a tough conundrum as the city's finest look for ways to crack down on crime, but could the new guidance actually put owners in more danger?
Shop at your own risk, says Norma Jean.
"They have to try to do something to try to bring the crime down because it's out of control," shopper Norma Jean said. "I don't remember it being this bold and in your face."
It doesn't get much more bold than a robbery at Diamond Collect in Flushing, Queens on February 22.
Exclusive video showed the suspects casing the joint before ambushing and beating a 79-year-old female employee.
Police say they're having trouble identifying suspects who target stores because they're wearing masks. They are now urging store owners to be proactive in the crime fighting effort.
"We are asking the businesses to make this a condition of entry, that people when they come in, they show their face, they should identify themselves," NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said.
Bronx bodega owner Francisco Marte is no stranger to crime.
"I've been myself, shot three times," he said.
But he says this latest guidance from the NYPD puts business owners in a bad spot.
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"We don't have a weapon to defend ourselves," Marte said. "That would be great, everyone come with their face up so the camera can see, we all can see. But we cannot force them to take off the mask."
Marte says that would lead to confrontation with customers who still want to mask up because of COVID.
"I would say I'd be kind of offended because it's my own way of feeling safe and I got really used to it through the pandemic," shopper Emmanuel Celestrino said.
Marte is taking measures into his own hands. He says he's planning on upgrading his surveillance system to include facial recognition technology.
He does anticipate some pushback, but says this would be a more effective tool to combat crime.
However, some shoppers say the NYPD's new guidance makes sense.
"People come inside the store, and you can't see anything but their eyes," one woman said.
Police hope that businesses will abide, and criminals will be deterred.
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