MODESTO, Calif. (AP) — A 7-Eleven in California has found a way to keep people from panhandling and loitering outside the store: crank up classical music.
Sukhi Sandhu, who owns the franchise in Modesto, said his customers tell him they feel safer since he started blasting symphonies and occasional operas over outdoor speakers.
"Once the music started, the riffraff left," said Manuel Souza, who's homeless and jokingly referred to himself as part of the riffraff. The loud music makes it hard "to hang out and gossip and joke around" near the store, Souza told the Modesto Bee last week from under a tree down the block.
The classical music is part of a 7-Eleven program that encourages non-confrontational methods to reduce loitering, Sandhu said. It eliminates any risks faced by clerks when asking panhandlers to leave, he said.
Another method employed at some stores is a device that emits a high-pitched screech similar to a mosquito buzzing in your ear. Clerks turn the device on and off as needed. Classical music is more effective, Sandhu said, and he plans to introduce it at other stores he owns in central California.
"We have received very positive feedback from our customers about the atmosphere created by the music devices piloted in several 7-Eleven stores across the US," the convenience store chain's corporate office said in a statement.
The newspaper said Monday that such measures aren't new. Convenience stores and other businesses as well as public facilities have used classical music and the mosquito device over the years to repel panhandlers, homeless people and loitering teenagers.