Robberies prompting Cleveland store owners to ask customers to remove hoods before entering

Posted at 10:30 PM, Jan 24, 2018

More and more business owners in the Cleveland area are asking customers to remove their hoodies before entering their stores in response to armed robberies in the area.

The store owners argue that gunmen often use hoodies, sunglasses or masks when conducting robberies at their locations.

Cleveland restaurant owner Nizar Nimeh said he is in favor of asking customers to remove their hoodies before placing an order at his locations. His Subway restaurant was victimized by an armed robber wearing a hoodie and Halloween mask in November.

"We have to put up the sign, and any customer who walks in here, they have to remove it," Nimeh said. "I believe 90 percent of customers agree. They say yes, why not."

But not all customers believe required hoodie removal is a good idea.

Lauren Phillips and her family were removed from a Pittsburgh shopping Mall in November because she refused to remove her hood.

"You're approaching us as if we stole out of the store, or we fit a description of some sort," said Phillips.

Store owners have the legal right to ask customers to remove hoodies.

It's a policy PNC bank branches have had posted at its location for a number of years.

PNC Bank issued the following statement in response to our story:

“We ask that customers remove their hat and sunglasses when they conduct business at a PNC branch for proper identification and security practices. The safety of our customers and employees is our foremost concern.”

PNC said it can ask customers to leave if they don't comply, but said if they know the customer they may not ask them to remove their hat and sunglasses.

The bank said vast majority of customers comply with the request, so it doesn't have to ask many to leave.

Many of the customers like LaDonna Rodrigez of Cleveland agree with the hoodie removal request when entering stores.

"I think that they're asking you to take off your hoodies, so that the cameras are able to catch who you are," Rodrigez said. "I think that the only people that should have a problem with this, are the people that are up to no good."