A store in Beverly Hills is banning masks due to increased crime and theft.
On Sunday, Kitson, a fashion and lifestyle boutique with multiple shops in the Los Angeles area, announced it would no longer allow mask-wearing patrons at its Beverly Hills location on Robertson Boulevard. The decision comes after a recent increase in masked thefts in the region.
Fraser Ross, the owner of Kitson, told CBSLA that it posted signs about the new mask rule last Wednesday.
In a statement, Ross said, “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,” the statement continued. “We do not allow wearing of masks in the Robertson store during regular business hours. Those people who wish to wear masks are free to set up an appointment for a person shopping experience or visit our website. We also offer curbside pickup.”
Crime in Los Angeles has spiked this year, leading the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to advise the public on how to protect themselves from being robbed. In July, the LAPD released information informing citizens how to avoid “follow-home robberies.”
“Suspects have been locating victims in Los Angeles, following them, and then committing the robberies as the victim arrives home or at their business,” the LAPD stated.
We are sharing this community alert in an effort to increase awareness of a series of robberies occurring in the City of Los Angeles. pic.twitter.com/qRyyB9ZT9n
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 17, 2022
The increase in robberies involving a weapon is also concerning.
In March, the department noted that it “has experienced an increase in robberies taking place in various communities in the City of Los Angeles” over the year, adding that “most concerning is that there has been an increase in the levels of violence used during these robberies and the frequency in which a firearm was used.”
As of March, citywide robberies were up 18% compared to 2021, while robberies with a firearm were up 44%, according to the LAPD.
This week, the LAPD is set to hold a press conference discussing “vehicle break-ins” targeting tourists and visitors in Griffith Park.
Burglaries aren’t the only concern. During the first half of the year, the LAPD recorded the highest number of homicides in more than ten years.
“181 murder victims. We’re on pace for a 15 year high. This is very, very scary for our city and it’s scary for the residents that we are supposed to protect,” Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz with the Los Angeles Police Protective League told ABC 7.
During the first six months of 2021, there were 180 homicides, compared to 181 in the first six months of this year. However, the numbers are a 29% jump from 2020 and a 34% spike from the average over the same time span between 2015 and 2019.
A recent effort to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón failed. “As soon as he was sworn into office, District Attorney George Gascon began issuing directives to his prosecutors, instructing them to go soft on crime, coddle criminals, and trample upon the dignity and rights of crime victims,” the recall campaign claimed.