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Businesses to Restrict Masks on Halloween

October 18, 1996|DADE HAYES

On Halloween night Valley businesses will implement a new rule: No masks after 9 p.m.

Business leaders, community activists and police have agreed to prohibit anyone who is wearing a mask from entering businesses after 9 p.m.

The rule stems from concern that masked patrons or trick-or-treaters might be robbers.

Police say they usually beef up patrols on Halloween, and would welcome any additional precautions.

"You have people walking around with their identity masked," said Lt. Don Hooper of the Van Nuys Division. "On any other night, that's illegal. So anything that allows businesses to successfully discourage that is probably to the benefit of the community."

The business owners' new rule would be difficult for police to enforce, but backers think it will help prevent trouble, especially in places such as restaurants and convenience stores.

"We hope law-abiding citizens honor it and take the masks off when they enter a restaurant, for example," said Don Schultz, president of the Van Nuys Homeowners Assn.

Hooper said statistics do not clearly demonstrate a dramatic increase in crime on Halloween, but the holiday is usually designated a "heavy deployment night."

Still, supporters, including Philip A. "Flip" Smith, president of the Sepulveda Business Watch, hope the rule sends a message.

"Maybe potential burglars will hear about this and be discouraged," Smith said.

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