Nearly Half This City’s Crime Happens At Wal-Mart

Nearly Half This City’s Crime Happens At Wal-Mart
Photo (cc) by stevendepolo

If you don’t witness shoplifting at the Wal-Mart in Port Richey, Fla., you might fall victim to a domestic or road-rage incident in the parking lot.

WFTS Tampa Bay, the local ABC affiliate, reports that police are called to the store two to three times a day for everything from thefts to domestic disputes:

One notable instance from 2012 was caught on surveillance camera. An argument over a parking spot led a 77-year-old woman to take matters into her own hands, attempting to run down the man with her car. In the video, he’s seen holding onto the hood as she drives off.

The Tampa Bay Times newspaper reported earlier this month that Robert Lovering, who became Port Richey’s police chief in October, is not the department’s first chief to raise the issue of frequent calls from the local Wal-Mart to the local PD.

“Nothing has changed,” he said of a study the police department did on crime at the Port Richey store, which Wal-Mart’s website identifies as a Supercenter at 8701 U.S. Highway 19.

The study found that 46 percent of all crime in the city between February 2014 and February 2015 happened there — and that 63 percent of thefts happened there, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Despite Port Richey’s population of fewer than 3,000 people, the police respond to an average of 2.1 calls for service from the Wal-Mart per day, with shoplifting arrests tying up officers for about three hours.

The newspaper adds:

Lovering said the main driver of the problem is Walmart’s loss prevention culture, which rewards employees for the number of shoplifting stops they make. The chief called on officials to be more proactive in barring repeat shoplifters instead of letting them in the store and waiting until they pocket something.

“Theft in our stores is taken seriously,” a Wal-Mart spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times by email, “and we are committed to taking appropriate measures to prevent it.”

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