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Crime-Riddled Walmart Is Draining Police Departments

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If it seems like Walmart shows up a lot in police blotters and crime stories, there’s good reason for that: As a story at Bloomberg explains, police departments across the nation are struggling to cope with the many, many crimes at local stores. And it’s not just shoplifting: More than 200 violent crimes have been reported at the chain’s 4,500 stores so far this year, about one a day. That includes everything from murder to attempted kidnapping. The story provides the broad strokes of what’s going on, noting that Walmart began aggressively cutting staff back in 2000 even as it quickly added stores. Fewer employees were around to keep on eye on shoppers, criminals began taking full advantage, and a downward spiral began. Walmart now insists it’s taking steps to remedy the problem, but police are skeptical.

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“It’s ridiculous,” says Tulsa Police Sgt. Robert Rohloff. “We are talking about the biggest retailer in the world. I may have half my squad there for hours.” Critics say the chain is shirking its responsibility to provide adequate security, while Walmart says it is experimenting with programs such as a “theft-prevention program” in lieu of arrest for first-time offenders. The chain has a secretive crime database that it uses to determine the security needs of each store, but security experts say it needs to hire more security guards and ramp up video surveillance. One big question is whether Walmart’s board wants to make that kind of investment at the expense of profits.

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San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr (C) walks through Super Bowl City in San Francisco, California January 27, 2016. The venue will host football fans in the days leading up to Super Bowl 50 on February 7. Picture taken January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger - RTX24ZD4
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr (C) walks through Super Bowl City in San Francisco, California January 27, 2016. The venue will host football fans in the days leading up to Super Bowl 50 on February 7. Picture taken January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger – RTX24ZD4
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