In putting together the latest edition of the Retail Security Tracker, one name kept popping up and not associated with good news. On the contrary, Walmart had a pretty tough week when it came to security, with a number of its locations throughout the U.S. happening to find themselves at the center of crime stories.
Walmart stores in the Denver metro area were the subject of a recent 9News investigative report that found that the chain’s stores tend to be the biggest source of police calls in the region — to the point where city officials are calling on the company to take action in order to reduce the strain it is creating on the department’s resources.
That seems like a lot of crime.
And indeed it is, according to a number of details that the 9News story metes out: One Walmart in the small town of Lakeside was responsible for almost 40 percent of all calls to the police department in 2015; in Commerce City, police responded to calls at the local Walmart at an average of 2.7 per day last year, which was the highest rate in the city; that number went up to 3.7 calls per day for one Walmart location in the town of Lakewood, which the outlet notes was the highest rate among all the communities it polled in its investigation.
In response to this alarming data (and the significant additional amount put forth in the story), Erica Jones, a spokesperson for Walmart, told 9News in a written statement that the company is “committed to making the shopping experience safe and secure for our customers and associates.”
“We serve more than 140 million customers in our U.S. stores every week,” Jones’ statement continued, “and, unfortunately, there will be individual incidents. But let me assure you that every store puts a lot of focus on its security and crime prevention measures.”
The Arizona Grandma Scam
There’s one area of security and crime prevention that one Walmart in Phoenix, AZ, might have been overlooking recently: the wire transfers that originate at its store.
12News shares the woeful tale of a resident little old lady by the name of Kitty who got schnooked by a scammer posing as her grandson on the telephone. Leading her to believe that the grandson was in jail in the Dominican Republic, the scammer convinced Kitty to attempt to wire money there.
She was prevented from doing so, however, by four different businesses — whose employees all recognized that something was clearly amiss in the tale that had been spun for Kitty — until she tried the local Walmart, where employees there allowed her to wire a total of $5,250 over the course of three days.
Kitty’s family members, after finding out what happened, took umbrage at the Walmart store for having failed to recognize what four other businesses had and prevented the little old lady from giving her money to scammers.
In defending the retailer, another Walmart spokesperson told 12News: “Consumer fraud is common to all retailers, even with great fraud prevention practices in place. We have many examples of our associates helping customers avoid scam transfers.”
Just, uh … not in Phoenix, recently, it would appear.
Carolina Crime-Stopping Stoppers
While employees of a Walmart Supercenter in Wilmington, NC, might not be on top of all the shoplifting that occurs at the store, they’re apparently on point when it comes to stopping other consumers from pointing out those incidents to them.
Last week, the citizen journalist website PINAC posted a video [warning: contains NSFW language] taken by a man who was in the process of recording an alleged theft-in-progress by a third party, when a Walmart employee escorted him off the premises for his efforts.
There’s a lot of cursing and peacocking that takes place in the video, and nobody comes out looking great. (Or good. Or reasonable or particularly intelligent.)
But if, as the amateur videographer claims, the employee did choose to ignore a shoplifter in favor of tussling with the citizen journalist (eventually “banning” him from returning the store) — during which time the alleged thief escaped with his loot — that might speak to a need for retail workers to have more of a split focus in addressing store security.
If not for the good of the store itself, doing so might at least save them from looking awkward on YouTube.