Police Want Walmart to Pull More Weight on Security

August 17th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Walmart's efforts to cut costs and keep prices low are driving petty and violent crime at Supercenters around the U.S., according to a report from Bloomberg. And police say the retailer isn't doing enough to address the problem, relying on public law enforcement resources instead.


Police respond to hundreds of thousands of calls each year for petty crimes such as shoplifting, at Walmart's more than 4,500 locations. And there have been at least 200 violent crimes reported at Walmarts in 2016 so far, an analysis of local media reports found. Though Walmart has taken steps to enhance security and reduce petty crime, stores are still heavily dependent on police to arrest and transport suspected criminals.

"The constant calls from Walmart are just draining," Florida police captain Bill Ferguson told Bloomberg. "They recognize the problem and refuse to do anything about it."

Oklahoma police sergeant Robert Rohloff said it's "ridiculous" that "the biggest retailer in the world" hasn't taken more responsibility for its security system. Some days he sends half of his squad to Walmarts around Tulsa, Oklahoma, for hours at a time.


Walmart's crime problem is the product of multiple factors, including the company's "cost-cutting crusade."

Walmart's corporate policy emphasizes the importance of reducing costs in the interest of keeping prices low for consumers. That's meant removing greeters from stores and replacing cashiers with self-checkout machines, for example. But reducing the number of employees on the floor has attracted criminal activity (namely shoplifting), and police feel overburdened by the demand that's placed on their departments.

Relying on local police forces for security is another example of how Walmart's low prices come at a cost to taxpayers. Due to the fact that Walmart employees are generally paid low wages (an average associate at the company earns $8.81 per hour, according to IBISWorld), they tend to rely on public assistance services such as food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing. That adds up to more than $6 billion in costs for U.S. taxpayers each year, Forbes reported.


Walmart says it recognizes the crime problem and aims to fix it.

"We absolutely understand how important this is," Walmart chief operating officer Judith McKenna told Bloomberg. "It is important for our associates, it is important for our customers and across the communities we serve. We can do better."

[h/t Bloomberg]

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