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Officials: 2 San Francisco women charged after claiming to have COVID-19 during robbery

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HICKSVILLE, NEW YORK – MARCH 18: An image of the sign for a Walgreens as photographed on March 18, 2020 in Hicksville, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Two San Francisco women have been charged after allegedly stealing from a Walgreens while claiming to have COVID-19, authorities announced Friday.

Officials say Carmelita Barela, 36, and Rosetta Shabazz, 32, entered the Walgreens near San Francisco’s Civic Center with empty bags and without wearing face masks.

When a store clerk came to help, the two women allegedly coughed loudly without covering their mouths and claimed to have coronavirus while taking merchandise off the shelves, according to officials.

“It is an unfortunate reality that there will be those in our community who try to take advantage of the current pandemic to prey on people’s fear of contracting COVID-19,” U.S. Attorney David Anderson said. “While many in our community can remain safe by sheltering in place, store managers and clerks are putting themselves out into the world for our benefit. They don’t deserve to be threatened and robbed. Everyone suffers from a crime like this.”

The women were arrested Thursday and charged with robbery affecting interstate commerce. If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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