Beverly Hills Store Bans Face Masks Citing Unsolvable Robberies

Kitson in Beverly Hills says the move to ban masks is not political or medical, but to stop the store from getting robbed left and right

Three weeks after Los Angeles County health officials thought better of resurrecting the public indoor masking mandate—a decision that followed several L.A. cities announcing they would not enforce any renewed mandate in the first place—one Beverly Hills store has gone a step further, declaring that masking on its premises is no longer even an option.

The business owner and employees, however, say they are not making a political or medical statement—they’re just sick of getting robbed.

As KTLA reports, the staff at Kitson on Robertson Boulevard say that they’ve noticed a surge in people looking to steal while wearing masks to avoid being identified. They add that people have been coming into the store to harass them, sometimes even physically assaulting them, while also wearing the masks.

“You have to have the awareness and understand the motivation, or at least the signs of somebody who is planning to steal,” employee Santos Hemenway told the station. “I used to be able to be a little more lax, but now, you know, I’ve got to be on all guards. It’s definitely changed in the last year so.”

Hemenway also told Fox 11, “This is not something we wanted to do, but it’s what we have to do to keep the safety of our employees and our assets.”

The shop is equipped with high-end cameras, he said, but they’re useless against even the most primitive mask technology.

“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,” Hemenway told Fox 11. “We definitely have security guards at all of our stores and we’ve installed high-security cameras, but [the mask] covers their face, the most important part of their face that we need to use when showing the police.”

Beverly Hills has been struggling with soaring crime just like the rest of L.A. County, he added: “It’s so important for us to feel safe. I live nearby and I walk home and it’s gotten to a place where I live in a close vicinity, but I’m still scared. I’m always looking over my shoulder, thinking about other routes I can take just to get home—and nobody should have to feel like that in such a wonderful city.”

Kitson’s owner, Ross Frasier, said in a statement, “At Kitson, we prioritize 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. To that end, we enacted our own mandate of sorts. We do not allow the wearing of masks in the store during regular business hours. Those people who wish to wear masks are free to set up an appointment for a personal shopping experience or visit our website.”

Although Frasier is not necessarily rejecting health claims about masking, Beverly Hills did when the city made clear late last month that it would not revert to forced face-covering, regardless of what county health bosses decided—and even L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued a public statement expressing skepticism that bringing back the mandate would curb the spread of COVID, citing a recent study which “concluded it had no significant impact in comparison to its surrounding counties that did not impose a masking mandate.”

El Segundo also preemptively announced that it would tolerate no further mandated masking after a summer in which the county dropped powerful hints that it was hankering to bring back the masks. As city after city rejected the prospect of reverting, however, public health officials began to float the idea that maybe they wouldn’t have to go through with that threat after all, before they finally relented.

For those who would still feel more comfortable masking-up for their Kitson shopping experience, the store says you are welcome to schedule an appointment.

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