A high-end retail shop in Beverly Hills, California, has responded to the skyrocketing rate of brazen theft occurring in the Golden State by banning masks. Breaking from the two-year-plus trend of voluntary and mandated mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the store is implementing the rule to protect its employees.
Kitson boutique owner Fraser Ross released a statement this week saying surging local crime required the rule to “prioritize the safety of our staff and customers.” He said that there has been a “disturbing trend of individuals wearing masks to avoid identification in various situations, including but not limited to shoplifting, verbal harassment and physical assault” in the community.
Ross said that while the COVID mask mandate began as a health precaution, it is now being used by criminals to conceal their identities.
Ross said that if any of the store’s customers still prefer to wear a mask while shopping at his location, his staff will set up appointments to accommodate them.
Beverly Hills has a number of expensive shops that cater to the affluent clientele in the area. Many have been hit with crimes ranging from shoplifting to smash-and-grab robberies executed by groups of people acting in coordination.
Employee Santos Hemenway praised Ross’s decision to ban masks inside the store, saying that although security is always important, everyone has had to be more “on guard” over the last couple of years. Hemenway added that the rule is “what we have to do to protect the safety of our employees and our assets.”
He added that the store has seen a rash of people in just the last few weeks coming into the store wearing masks and either stealing or attempting to steal property from the store.
Beverly Hills Smash and grab on steroids…car slams through expensive high end clothing store😳 pic.twitter.com/uI9DIznOmy
— Famous14u (@famous14u) August 15, 2022
A Neiman Marcus outlet in the city was robbed on August 13 by a group of thieves who smashed open its glass doors and windows by ramming the building with a car.
The indoor mask mandate that has been in place in Los Angeles County is no longer in effect as of Monday. Although the county has said that it might reinstate the mandate if there are future outbreaks, the city of Beverly Hills said last month that it will not enforce any further county mandates.