California 7-Eleven cranks classical music to dissuade loitering

Now don’t come Bach!

A California 7-Eleven said it found a way to keep panhandlers and loiterers from hanging out inside the store: blast classical music.

Sukhi Sandhu, who owns the franchise in Modesto, told The Modesto Bee 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," Manuel Souza, who's homeless and jokingly referred to himself as part of the riffraff, said. The loud music makes it hard "to hang out and gossip and joke around" near the store, Souza told the paper last week from under a tree down the block.

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.

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 Associated Press contributed to this report