“In Massachusetts many banks agreed that their customers must remove their hats and sunglasses once they crossed a bank’s threshold. Of these branches, only 3% were robbed.” – The Economist

Perhaps the bank version of the “please turn off your digital devices” policy on planes is the no hats (or hoodies, or helmets, or sunglasses) policy.

Mr Delancaster-Swinbank-Slack is annoyed that the staff at his local ANZ branch continually ask him to remove his hat when he visits.

The sign at the door clearly indicates the policy, but Mr Delancaster-Swinbank-Slack is 83 and is no “young thug”, so he chooses to ignore it.

He puts ANZ staff into a difficult position because they can’t apply the policy discriminately to just the people they think look a bit dodge.

He notes that staff “usually relented because of his age and non-menacing appearance”. He puts the other staff working in the branch into an even more difficult position. Say someone else comes into the branch. Maybe they look dodgy, maybe they don’t. They’re also wearing a hat.

How do you explain to them that you’d like them to remove their hat when a couple of metres away Anthony is over there rocking his sports hat? Do you choose to ask the person who just walked in, potentially really offending one of your customers with the insinuation that they look suspect? Or do you not ask, knowing that the large majority of bank robbers cover their face/head in some way?

 This post represents my views, not my employer’s.

6 thoughts on ““WHY DO I HAVE TO TAKE MY HAT OFF?”

  1. So b your logic, any potential banks robbers will either…

    A) decide not to rob the bank because of the sign that says no hats


    B) rob the bank as planned but remove their hat so that their full face can be seen

    Lets be honest, this is not going to prevent anything… All it does is discriminate against anyone for the articles of clothing that they are wearing. Its not about safety or security as someone could still rob the place without wearing any hat or hoodie and those people dont give a toss about rules so is not going to make any difference at all.

    1. Hi Darren,

      Most bank robberies in New Zealand involve note passing and an attempt to conceal identity (see photos in the post). An effective way of preventing these is to approach the person to ask them to make themselves more identifiable (and what they would like help with). The signs are not the deterrent per se, but they support requests from staff and set the expectation that everyone entering the bank should be identifiable.

      The policy also helps with deterring fraud if everyone transacting is clearly identifiable.

      As you point out though, signs and requests are not magical and will not prevent all robberies.

      I don’t have statistics on how many robberies in New Zealand have been prevented through approaches to remove hats etc., but anecdotally know that some people when requested to make themselves identifiable, choose to leave the branch after being approached. However, Massachusetts banks found that the robbery rates of branches applying this policy dropped to 3%.

      Thanks for your comment,


  2. What law in this country says that you can ask anyone to remove an item of clothing because they are entering your premises? I wear a hat because it is cold….not because im about to rob a bank and even if i was, i would have to be the dumbest bank robber in the world as my face is still visable, all it does is hide the colour of my hair. If i have an account at a bank then it is my money and my custom that keeps the bank going, Im just wondering when it was that people started doing things just because a sign or someone else asks them to?If we all follow like sheep…then we are sheep and not human beings.

    1. Hi Joe

      Do you need a law to be able to ask someone a question?

      Although you might not intend to rob the bank, nearly everyone who does intend to rob the bank is going to try to obscure their face in some way. The policy makes it harder for potential robbers (and fraudsters) to keep their anonymity–it sets the expectation that they will be approached by bank staff.

      I completely agree that we should question everything. However, I’ve spoken to bank staff who have been robbed, or been in the branch when a robbery has occurred, and I think this policy is a reasonable one that gives staff a sense of control over their work environment.

      This is an interesting cultural change, because years ago everyone would have immediately taken their hat off upon entering a building.

      Hopefully it shouldn’t be too cold inside the branch.


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