Tampa, FL. Shocking New Statistics on Wal-Mart Crime: Unsafe In Any Aisle
Wal-Mart is a magnet for crime. New research published by the Tampa Bay Times reveals the stunning fact that in 2014, 53 Wal-Mart stores in 4 Florida Counties (Hillsborough, Pasco, and Hernando) generated 16,800 police reports in one year alone. That’s two calls an hour, every hour, every day. “The calls eat up hours of officer’s time,” the newspaper reports. “They all start at one place.” One sheriff told the newspaper, “It is a tremendous strain on manpower.”
Over the years, Sprawl-Busters has presented hundreds of stories demonstrating that Wal-Mart is a magnet for crime. The Tampa Bay Times calculates that Wal-Mar’s, on average, produce four times as many calls as nearby Target stores. The amazing volume of police reports has a financial impact on the communities that host Wal-Mart. The newspaper said the retailer has been criticized “for shifting too much of its security burden onto taxpayers. Several local law enforcement officers also emphasized that all the hours spent at Wal-Mart cut into how often they can patrol other neighborhoods and prevent other crimes.”
“They’re a huge problem in terms of the amount of time that’s spent there,” a Tampa police Officer to The Times. “We are, as a department, at the mercy of what they want to do.”
The police logged 7,000 calls, and 9,000 calls for general disorder---wide-ranging incidents from trespassing and parking violations, to lost property and people sleeping outside stores. Around 500 calls were handled involving violence crime. “Officers know Wal-Mart is such a regular trouble spot that they routinely show up without being called,” the newspaper said. On top of the 16,800 incident reports, The Times estimated another 6,200 routine visits that were made to prevent crimes---all of this chewing up police time and costing the taxpayer money. “It was almost like they were kind of just waiting to get a call,” one former Wal-Mart employee told the newspaper.
The Times notes that Wal-Mart’s “are natural targets for shoplifters..many are located in disadvantaged areas…Wal-Mart lays out its stores in a way that invites trouble and often doesn’t have enough uniformed employees to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
A Wal-Mart spokesman told The Times, “Any type of criminal activity that might be happening in our stores we take very seriously, and we have processes in place to address that aggressively.” But one retail analyst told The Times, “Law enforcement becomes in effect a taxpayer-paid private security source for Wal-Mart.”
Sprawl-Busters has chronicled on Facebook and Twitter “the body count” at Wal-Mart, a running stream of violent incidents involving alleged shoplifters and Wal-Mart loss prevention staff or local cops. One man was recently beaten for reportedly stealing a 38 cent tomato, which, it turns out, he had paid for. But shoppers accused of stealing have ending up pinned to the Wal-Mart parking lot pavement by company employees, and tragic deaths have resulted over petty crimes worth less than $30 in merchandise.
The Times suggested that Wal-Mart is not adequately protecting its stores or its shoppers. The newspaper says the retailer should “hire more uniformed security guards.”
Law enforcement officials in some communities are fighting back. In Port Richey, Florida, the police asked Wal-Mart to hire more off-duty officers, but the retailer has not responded. “It’s almost like we’re Wal-Mart’s personal police transportation agency,” a Port Richey cop told The Times.
The Times also compared Wal-Mart’s share of police calls to its share of all the property taxes paid in four cities. Their research found that “Wal-Mart’s slice of calls was consistently larger than its slice of tax payments. Much larger.”
Sprawl-Busters has adopted the following tag line for its stories on Wal-Mart crime: “Wal-Mart: Unsafe In Any Aisle.”
What you can do: Tell your local officials that your local Wal-Marts need to carry its weight in police costs, and that the stores should hire more police on is dime to keep local taxes lower--and allow the town to focus on other needs, like schools and roads.
To read the full Tampa Bay Times report, go to: