Stores fight loitering with music

Dec. 19, 2007 at 7:21 PM

SACRAMENTO, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A court in Sacramento, Calif., has instructed two mini-marts to play classical music to deter loitering, drug dealing and panhandling.

The Sacramento Superior Court, in two separate cases, told the businesses, which were identified by police as trouble spots, to play classical music audible for 25 feet around the store, the Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday.

Police and city officials said playing classical music has been known to discourage loitering.

Onkar Singh, an employee of World Wines & Liquors, said the tactic has been successful for the store.

"When we see someone sitting in the front or back, we turn it up," he said. "They go away."

However, critics have said the program is disrespectful to classical music as an art form.

"I think it's a coercive act and it makes a mockery of our idea of classical music as a great cultural tradition," said Robert Fink, a University of California, Los Angeles, associate professor of musicology. "It would be like reading 'to be or not to be' through a bull horn."

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