Smile for the camera: Masked shoppers at My Sister's Closet will have to show their faces after shoplifting incidents

The owners of a popular upscale secondhand store in the Phoenix area are requiring shoppers wearing masks to show their face to security cameras after shoplifting incidents involving masked perpetrators.

Starting Friday, masked shoppers at fashion consignment shop My Sister’s Closet are being asked to briefly pull down their mask at the door, co-owner Tess Loo said.

Loo hopes the new policy will help identify shoplifters if any items are stolen and prevent "grab and run theft," she said.

The change in policy comes after several high-end items were recently stolen, including designer purses, “which equate to thousands of dollars,” spokesperson Jen Sturgeon said.

“They come in and grab the items quick because no one can see their faces,” Sturgeon said.

In addition to the new mask policy, the owners are upping security at the stores, including hiring off-duty officers to provide armed security, and offering a $5,000 reward for information about the thefts.

Shoplifting purses, clothing

Loo and her sister Ann Siner opened the first My Sister’s Closet 30 years ago and the duo have since expanded to three Valley locations, including a new store at Biltmore Fashion Park, and several stores in Southern California.

They also own the consignment furniture store My Sister’s Attic, Well Suited men’s consignment and My Sisters’ Charities, which donates revenue from sales to various causes.

Shoplifters hit the My Sister's Closet's north Scottsdale location at Pima and Pinnacle Peak roads and the Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road location just north of Old Town.

My Sister's Closet co-owner Tess Loo poses for a portrait at My Sister's Closet at Biltmore Fashion Square in Phoenix on July 22, 2021.

Loo said the perpetrators typically come into the store in pairs and are wearing masks, which makes it difficult to identify them.

Scottsdale police confirmed that officers responded to a reported theft involving high-end purses at the Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road location just before 5 p.m. Nov. 21. Someone was seen leaving the store with four purses, Officer Aaron Bolin, a department spokesperson, said.

Two days later, on Nov. 23, two people entered the Pima and Pinnacle Peak roads store and took several high-end clothing items. The report indicated they were wearing masks, Bolin said.

No one has been arrested in either incident.

The store's new mask policy comes as health leaders advise people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors, whether vaccinated or not. COVID-19 hospitalizations are spiking, reaching levels not seen since Arizona’s brutal winter surge in February.

Loo said the store's policy isn't about politics but about preventing further shoplifting. She said several shoppers were wearing masks on Friday and there hadn't been any issue with the new policy.

Still, she acknowledged that some people might try to politicize the new policy.

"Since March of 2020, there has been nothing but turmoil over masks," she said. "We're not out to offend anybody or make anybody upset."

Reach reporter Paulina Pineda at or 480-389-9637. Follow her on Twitter: @paulinapineda22.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: My Sister's Closet updates mask policy to curb shoplifting