July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Medina sign asks customers to remove hoods, hats and sunglasses

Allison Wood | The Gazette

MEDINA — As part of a new effort to deter crime at local businesses, police are asking owners to put up signs encouraging customers to remove hoods, hats and sunglasses when entering.

Since many robbery and theft suspects are seen wearing clothing such as hoodies that hide their facial features, it can be hard for police and employees at businesses to sufficiently identify them, Police Chief Dennis Hanwell said Friday.

Members of the police department met with local bank officials and Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce members, who expressed interest in having signs they could post at businesses, he said.

Although businesses cannot legally make customers remove hats or hoodies, he said he hopes many will willingly do so, especially if they are aware of the reason.

“It’s not a law we can enforce,” Hanwell said, “but businesses have the right to refuse business.”

Medina Key Bank branch manager David Fletcher said Friday all the bank’s branches have posted signs at their locations for more than a year and it is a corporate policy.

“We have trained tellers that if customers don’t remove the items that they should pay more at-tention to the person,” he said.

Although the Medina branch has not had a robbery within the last year, Fletcher said the effort has been beneficial at branches in more urban areas.

This effort is also trying to deter lesser crimes, such as shoplifting, Hanwell said. At stores around Public Square, it is easy for shoplifters to distract clerks, since often there is only one or two working at one time, he said.

Detective Scott Thomas said the department heard from the Columbus office of the FBI that the suburban city of Worthington recently started a similar program.

Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.