Restaurant owner takes down 'fat people are harder to kidnap' sign amid trafficking concerns

BARBERTON, Ohio -- The owner of an Ohio pizza restaurant decided to take down a sign that poked fun at people who are overweight. He didn't get objection from them, but another implication of the message made him think twice.

Jeremy Clemetson has owned his pizza store in Barberton, Ohio for 14 years, and said he enjoys weaving humor into his advertising.

"I thought it would be a good idea to put up some funny signs," said Clemetson. "Most people seem to like them."

The signs have featured messages like, "Now hiring: Must show up," "If it's not there in 30 minutes, move closer," and, "Free box with every pizza."

"I scour the internet for different signs that people have had," said Clemetson. "Sometimes I use them. Sometimes I reinvent my own. I also have got some of my funny signs from customers."

His latest billboard read, "Fat people are harder to kidnap," a slogan he previously had on the sign outside his shop for several weeks, and on his Facebook page, without a single objection.

"I don't see it offensive," said Judi Jacobs, resident. "They are just advertising, and trying to get people to notice them."

Clemetson said he decided to take it down after an email was sent to corporate headquarters complaining it was in poor taste considering January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

"I never even thought about it in that way, and as soon as I thought it, because kidnapping is not a joke, we are taking it down," said Clemetson.

The response on the Facebook page for WJW FOX8 News in Cleveland was overwhelming -- with many supporting the store, and others seeing how it can be offensive.

"I think a lot of people are going to be offended by it, but I don't think it's a big deal," said Emma Bair, resident. "It's advertising."

The slogan has been used for years on popular T-shirts and advertising for a hotel chain buffet, and even as the name of a Facebook page. Clemetson said he never meant it to be offensive -- and is sensitive to the objections.

"I have seven kids of my own," said Clemetson. "I'm from the community here. I've lived here pretty much all of my life. I live in Barberton. I have strong roots here. I never even thought about it as the kidnapping aspect. I just meant it to be funny."