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Clothing store Kitson bans face masks after spike in theft

Pandemic may be fueling rise in retail thefts
Some experts say pandemic is partially to blame for rise in organized retail thefts 04:34

Los Angeles clothing store chain Kitson said it is banning customers from wearing face masks after a series of shoplifting incidents by thieves in disguise. 

Shoppers at the brand's Beverly Hills location are prohibited from wearing face coverings under the new mandate so employees can "see the faces of the criminals," according to a post on Kitson's Instagram account. A sign in the store's window announces that "Due to the safety of our staff & assets of the store, we do not allow the wearing of face masks." 

Kitson makes clear that customers may not wear masks inside its stores. Instagram / Kitson

Kitson said it implemented the new policy after noticing "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," Kitson said in a statement. 

In announcing the new store rule, Kitson also took aim at Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who have encouraged mask wearing. 

"Eric Garcetti, Gavin Newsom, and Gascon are clueless what obstacles businesses have to overcome to protect their staff and assets of their business," the company said. Kitson said it will accommodate private shopping for customers who don't feel comfortable not wearing masks. 

The pandemic has led to an uptick in organized shoplifting, according to retail security experts. Some retailers have even hired extra security to protect against criminals. 

Pharmacy chains have taken steps to protect merchandise as well, with some locking up valuable, or likely to be stolen goods — including inexpensive tins of Spam. 

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