Press release - Oxnard Police Debuts "Hats Off" Crime Prevention Campaign
Published 8/31/2009 (all press releases for this day)
OXNARD POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Oxnard Police Department unveiled a new component to its existing Crime Free Business program called, "Hats Off to Beat Crime." The purpose of the program is to reduce robbery and violence in retail establishments.
The Hats Off program is adapted from a successful crime prevention effort undertaken by the Folkestone Police Station in Kent, England. According to Police Constable John Weller of the Folkestone Neighbourhood [sic-British spelling] Policing Unit, the Hats Off effort dates back some 300 years. "I found out that King Carlos III of Spain introduced a similar program in the 1700s where he banned the wearing a broad-brimmed hats, which were being used to conceal the identity of criminals." (Citation: The History of Spain by Peter Pierson, pp.78-79, published by Greenwood,2008.)
The concept behind Oxnard's Hats Off campaign is not much different from that of ancient Spain. Many commercial robberies in our city occur with suspects concealing their faces with hats, hoodies or helmets. The 8" by 10" full-color sticker (as pictured above) is available to any Oxnard-based business. It is placed near the entrances of the business as a reminder to customers to remove head apparel before entering.
Refusing to remove hats, hoodies or helmets does not constitute a crime in of itself, but business owners do have the right to refuse service to persons so dressed. California law makes the obstruction or intimidation of businesses or its employees a misdemeanor.* Therefore, business owners have discretion in who they choose to serve based on apparel and the threat of criminal activity.
"You have to wonder why a person would go into a business with their face concealed," says Detective Marty Ennis, Crime Free coordinator with the Oxnard Police Department. "If you're not a crook, why would you want to look like one?"
Oxnard police recommend that owners pay particular attention to customers who conceal their faces. "Employees are well within the rights to ask a customer to comply with the sign," said Ennis. "If the customer refuses to cooperate, the store employee can ask the customer to leave. If the customer refuses to leave, the police should be called because the situation has escalated to a possible criminal act." Persons who fail to cooperate with the reasonable requests of business employees may be subject to arrest.
Businesses interested in the Hats Off campaign or the Crime Free Business program can contact Detective Martin Ennis at (805) 385-8349 or MartinEnnis@OxnardPD.org. Additional information is available online at http://www.oxnardpd.org/crimefreebusiness/.
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