The Kitson boutique in Beverly Hills, California, has just made public a major shift in store policy: no masks allowed.
The owner of the retailer, Fraser Ross, said the new rule is the result of an increase in local crime, according to KNBC-TV.
Ross released a statement saying in part, “At Kitson we prioritized the safety of our staff and customers. We noticed a disturbing trend of individuals wearing masks to avoid identification in various situations, including but not limited to shoplifting, verbal [harassment] and physical assault.
“The mask mandate may have begun as a health precaution, but we believe it [is] now being used by some people for nefarious purposes.”
High-end stores in the affluent area have recently been hit with crimes ranging from petty shoplifting to brazen smash-and-grab robberies.
KCBS-TV reported that a nearby Neiman Marcus outlet had its glass doors and metal gates destroyed by thieves ramming them with a car on the morning of Aug. 13. The thieves reportedly stole several Chanel bags.
Kitson employee Santos Hemenway supported his employer’s decision, telling KTLA-TV, “I used to be able to be a little more lax, but now I’ve got to be on all guards. It’s definitely changed in the last year or so.”
Hemenway explained to KTTV-TV, “It’s not something we wanted to do, but it’s what we have to do to keep the safety of our employees and our assets.”
“Especially in the last few weeks, we’ve had multiple events where people have come in using masks and have chosen to steal or try to steal assets from our store, which is very unfortunate,” he continued.
As of Monday, there is no indoor mask mandate in place in Los Angeles County.
The county has hinted that it may reinstate masking requirements, but Beverly Hills pre-emptively stated last month that it would not enforce a renewed mandate.
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) July 28, 2022
KTLA reported that Ross said customers who still wish to wear a mask while shopping at Kitson can call ahead and set up an appointment to do so.