Subway restaurant owner requires customers to remove hoodies amid rash of armed robberies

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — More Cleveland store and restaurant owners are now asking customers to remove their hoodies before they enter in response to continued armed robberies.

Multiple store owners, in all parts of Cleveland, told WEWS 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.

Nimeh’s Clark Avenue Subway restaurant was victimized by an armed robber, wearing a hoodie and Halloween mask in November 2017. Nimeh told WEWS he believes asking customers to take down their hoodies makes his locations less of a target for a hold-up.

“We have to put up the sign, and any customer who walks in here, they have to remove it,” said Nimeh. “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 take down her hoodie.

“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:

“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.

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

Meanwhile many of the customers we talked to, 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,” said Rodrigez. “I think that the only people that should have a problem with this, are the people that are up to no good.”