Town bans hoods, hats, shades in banks

Frank sez, "I know you're asking for trouble wearing a ski mask inside a bank. Now, my town [Ed: Westerville, OH] is prohibiting wearing hats, hoodies, sun glasses and also the use of cell phones inside banks. When will the insanity end?"
Westerville police have asked the city's 21 banks and credit unions to post window signs that direct customers to put away cell phones and remove sunglasses, hoods and hats.

The idea is to weed out those who want to conceal their identities from security cameras to rob the bank or credit union.

No hat, no hood, no shades? Come on in (Thanks, Frank)


  1. So what happens if you are a Muslim or an Orthodox Jew and you need to visit the bank?

  2. My bank, PNC, has adopted this customer dress code. Anyone who has a legitimate medical or religious reason to wear dark glasses or head coverings is granted an exemption. I have no problem with this; the bank is private property and they have the right to refuse business from anyone as do its customers have the right to not give them their business.

    The thing I take issue with here is that it’s not the bank that is issuing the dress code but rather the municipality. Moreover the municipality is forcing it on every bank leaving the customer no choice but to comply.

  3. We tried to do something similar at the library that I used to work at. The kids that made a lot of trouble (and were thus banned from the library) would try to “sneak” in by wearing large sweatshirts with the hoods pulled up around their heads. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes, they just stuck out — seeing as they were the only kid with a heavy sweatshirt on in the middle of an 80-degree day. Regardless, I really wish that we’d been able to enforce the “no hood” rule (it really seemed to only be an issue at the branch I worked at) because there were dozens of people who evaded us on surveillance with their faces hidden.

  4. I agree with #2 – My credit union has a similar policy, and I don’t mind it at all (plus I figure it’s easier for them to match people w/their photo IDs if they don’t have sunglasses and hats on). I don’t have any problem with the bank determining that hats/hoods/sunglasses are not okay.

    But I don’t think that a municipality needs to create and enforce this rule. Aren’t most cities, counties and states freaking BROKE right now? How can they afford to pay the extra cops to hassle people wearing hoods into banks?

  5. And how exactly does this stop people from robbing a bank or committing other illegal acts? The fact of the matter is that people who are going to do bad things are not going to be stopped by a sign that says “Oh, please don’t or you might get in trouble.” Those people have already crossed that line in their own minds.

    Bah, I say. Bah.

  6. My bank has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to costumes at Halloween. Which seemed reasonable to me.

  7. I used to work as a bank teller for several years. Id rather have been robed by the ‘quiet, sneaky robbers’ than by the ‘guns a’ blazing’ take-over robbers.
    Unfortunately a policy like this will cause more robbers to just storm the building putting employees and customers at greater risk.
    This seems like a fairly abuse regulation on the part of the locality.

  8. My credit union has a polite request to remove hats and sunglasses stencilled on their doors (has since I joined years ago) which always kind of makes me smile as I raise my sunglasses up onto my head. I think mainly because it is a simply politely written request and because I know that a robber would just ignore it completely.

    1. Somebody just told me that one of the local banks has installed a single-serving turnstile booth for customers. They only let one customer in at a time. Which is great when you live in a place that’s 120° in the summer. Plus, from the description, it sounds like being trapped in a revolving door.

  9. My understanding was that banks are really dumb places to rob from a risk/reward point of view, and that anyone other than a rank amateur, a moron, or a professional specialist is unlikely to try to rob many banks. (They’ve all got cameras, the cops are likely to show up very quickly, they have security on staff, the money will probably have one of those dye-bombs in it anyway, etc, etc.)

  10. “The thing I take issue with here is that it’s not the bank that is issuing the dress code but rather the municipality. Moreover the municipality is forcing it on every bank leaving the customer no choice but to comply.”

    Oh I get it, ya that doesn’t make much sense to me. Maybe the town keeps money in all their banks and doesn’t want to see anymore of it get stolen?

    “My understanding was that banks are really dumb places to rob from a risk/reward point of view”

    Too many factors to generalize it like that, however if you feel like stealing from others is the most profitable reward you’ll get yours.

  11. I am near-sighted and sometimes end up with the wrong glasses at the bank. (especially if I walk.)

    As a courtesy to the bank clerk, I will take off my prescription sun glasses, squint like a mole (so the teller gets a good look at me and know that I am not a threat) and them put them back on so that I can see the rest of the transaction.

  12. In Costa Rica you typically have to be let into the bank by the guard who stands at a locked door or a double door system. You then must remove hats/sunglasses and may not answer your phone while inside the bank. You are “wanded” and your bag is inspected.

  13. When I was in New Zealand in January it seemed that there was an across-the-board policy at all banks requiring sunglasses nad headcoverings removed. I think cell phones were also not allowed.

  14. It’s not really clear from the OP if this is actually a law. It seems to me that this is just the police asking the banks to do this to make the police’s job easier in identifying a perp if a robbery does indeed take place.

    It seems a bit overkill, but if it is indeed just a police “request,” then you still have the option of taking your business elsewhere, or talking to your bank’s management to try and change their policy.

  15. This probably won’t result in any on-the-spot apprehensions, but it’s true that computers have an easier time recognizing faces when their features are mostly visible.

    Some formal restaurants deny entrance to anyone they choose, based on appearance. This is nothing new, but some people are bound to dislike any revision of bank policy that dictates the terms under which they may continue banking. And besides… they didn’t say anything about Batman costumes, strap-on dildos, hockey masks, Super Mario pajamas, bicycle helmets, monocles, eyepatches, Zorro masks, gas masks, or safety goggles.

    1. How are these signs any different from “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” signs?

      Being a resort, we don’t get much past “No tits and ass.” I have seen the eye-searing Speedo & Flipflops combination in the grocery store a few times. And this is a retirement community.

    1. It’s the cognitive dissonance of living in one of the gay porn capitals of the galaxy and having pensioners from Saskatoon showing up in thongs to do the shopping.

  16. What if you wear corrective sunglasses? I do, and if I have to take them off in a bank I will get lost halfway to the teller.

  17. Why does this give me the urge to go into my local bank wearing a ski mask just to see what they’d do?

  18. Why the ban on cell phones? Most cell phones have cameras in ’em nowadays, so a bank full of people with cell phones is a bank full of people capable of snapping photos — and video — of bank robbers from a dozen different angles.

    Or do bank robbers use cell phones to coordinate their robberies? I can see wanting to eliminate that possibility.

  19. How things change.

    Many many years ago, before ATMs, as a student at UC Berkeley, I would ride my motorcycle to the bank. I would go into the bank to cash a check, still wearing my helmet. I went in once without the helmet, and they didn’t recognize me. When the teller looked at the check she said “Oh, you’re the guy with the motorcycle”.

    One Halloween I wore a gorilla mask under the helmet. Standing in line I took off the helmet to reveal the mask. Nobody blinked an eye.

  20. Perhaps the cell phone ban is unrelated but got lumped in – you know, roll out all the changes at once.

    It might be a courtesy issue for the tellers. It’s difficult to do a transaction when the other party is ignoring you. Hello, I’m working with YOUR money here, you wanna pay attention??

  21. They’re just catching up to us in the big city. Here in Fairfax, VA, the Navy Federal Credit Union has cute signs at the entrance, no shades, hats, or hoods. I’ve got not issues with it. In fact, if they banned cell phones, that would be OK, too. It makes people look each other in the eye, and OMG, actually talk!

  22. Wow. There’s certainly a lot of tolerance on here for these rules. Hasn’t anyone else who reads Boing Boing seen the report about the Muslim woman who was pulled out of line at her credit union because of her scarf? At least they let her do her banking in the back room. (Do you suppose eventually they’ll have a separate entrance for people wearing scarves?) There’s a picture of her in her scarf at that link, and you can see her face just fine. It’s just a scarf.

    In fact, the stupid sign at my credit union (which is otherwise a lovely institution) inspired me to write a short-short story for my flash fiction series on Book View Cafe. And, hell, I can’t see inside with my sunglasses on and I rarely wear hats, much less scarves. The rule doesn’t affect me personally; it just bugs me. It’s just the latest example of the kind of petty disrespect we’re all learning to take for granted.

  23. I work for a bank with over 200 branches in five states. There isn’t a month that goes by that we don’t have at least a couple of branches robbed, many times more. I have a special hatred for the cowardly morons who rob banks, especially when they feel the need to hurt an innocent employee or customer.

    I think this should be the policy across the nation. I’ve seen many security photos, and almost every single robber wears a hat and/or sunglasses.

    If people want to wear a hat or scarf, they should use the ATM.

  24. I’ve lived in Westerville for about 10 years. It’s a suburb of Columbus and not some rural town in Ohio, just to put a little context around it.

    Regardless, I have a couple of thoughts.

    1) It’s kinda sad that I am informed of this new law by Boing Boing and not a more local source. I could have went to the bank and deposited a check with a baseball cap on and been hauled downtown.

    2) Lots of banks have branches in groceries stores. In particular, the one in the Kroger that I always go it. Does this mean that I can’t wear a hat in a grocery store as well? How close can I be to the teller before it’s an issue?

  25. The day I walk into a branch with a ball cap on and the security guy asks me to leave is the day I close accounts there. Don’t ask me to jump through hoops to soothe your cowardice. Either grow a spine or find work that keeps you away from the public.

    1. If it gets too annoying to go into the branch, you’ll just go to the ATM. And the bank employees will just go to the unemployment office. It’s like the checkers at the supermarket always trying to get people to use self-checkout. Are you trying to make yourself obsolete?

  26. I would have thought the police would be smart enough to figure the bank robber to be the guy wearing a ski mask and brandishing a firearm. Then again I shouldn’t underestimate human stupidity.

  27. Yep, the guy with the real gun I can see on the cameras, more desperate by definition, is preferable to the guy pointing his finger in his hoodie!

    Wait…. what?

  28. @43 Many ATMs are within a branch, at least over here.

    Do American ATMs dispense $500-notes? ’cause it’s not uncommon over here for people to withdraw a couple of 100s, 200s or 500s to pay large items in cash. And you get that kind of money only from the cashier.

    OTOH, there’s also the matter cheques, which I believe are still being used in the US. Or do people just send ’em in?

  29. ’cause making bank robbery against the law didn’t work, now we’ll stop ’em by making hats and sunnies illegal! totally foolproof…

  30. I never go to the bank unless I’m carrying a gun (usually openly carried), doubly so if I’m doing a withdrawal of more than $100. Heck two times ago the clerk asked me how I liked my pistol and asked if I had used a different one for a comparison because she was thinking of getting a new pistol.

  31. I’ve been doing that for years as a simple courtesy. Occasionally I see signs. I’m not sure I like the idea of it being a municipal rule though. Seems like you approach the “getting arrested for wearing a hat” area with this.

  32. $100s are the largest denomination in daily use. You can get up to your one-time and/or daily limit from an ATM, which might be $500. You can deposit checks or cash in the ATM. Banks are for merchants with massive cash, economically-challenged people who have to cash checks due to no account/need-now/etc. and for the occasional transaction like getting a cashier’s check. Half the customers in a branch are either opening or closing an account or using the bank’s mortgage broker or stockbroker.

  33. @51 Thanks. I assume “depositing checks at the ATM” means that it draws in the check and gives me a receipt. Does it scan the cheque?

  34. Doe anyone know if there is money stolen from my account for example… And its withdrawn at an ATM, if a regular citizen can see that security video or does only the police have acces to those?

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