Saturday, July 13, 2002

Dress Code for Crooks
The Boston Globe shares the plans of some Massachusetts banks to post signs requesting customers not to wear certain articles of clothing in order to cope with a surge of bank robberiies.
Dark sunglasses. Hat. Hooded sweatshirt. When police get calls reporting a bank robbery, invariably the suspect is described wearing one of those accessories. Sometimes, they've donned all three.

The wares are, as an FBI spokeswoman said in an interview, ''the uniform of choice'' of bank robbers, for the obvious reason that it helps shield their identity.

Now some Massachusetts banks - trying to thwart a dramatic increase in robberies - are hoping to strip would-be robbers of their preferred get-ups by posting signs asking customers to please lose the shades and hats.


Customers at the Milford bank now face these words when they walk through the front door: ''To preserve safety and security, we respectfully request all customers to remove hats, hoods, and sunglasses while in the bank. Thank you.''

Despite the sign, most bank patrons were unaware of the changes this week. Some went into the bank wearing baseball hats and sunglasses and were not asked by employees, including security guards, to remove them. But others were asked, and, although surprised, took them off without protest. A few who knew the rules took off hats and sunglasses before entering, tucking them into purses or under their arms.
"When hats are outlawed, only outlaws will have hats?" I suppose this might deter some solitary bank robbers, but if it is a group of robbers, all it is going to do is start the action early.