6 Oct 2011

Walmart stores deal with claims of high crime, unusual behavior

Author: Zach Knapp | Filed under: Local stories

By Zach Knapp

Walmart stores across the country are being criticized for influencing crime and unusual behavior in their respective communities.

Bowling Green’s Walmart has seen its own share of crime and unusual behavior.

According to the Bowling Green Police Division’s record system, their has been a larger report of crime, excluding nearby traffic crimes, relating to Walmart than any other grocery retailer in Bowling Green.

Strange behavior and crime does not scare away all shoppers, as a man finds what he is looking for in one of the retailers many stores. Image used with permission by Wal-Mart

Last month there were eight crimes reported at the Walmart, compared to one at Kroger and no reported crimes at Meijer.

Such behavior does not surprise some people who have spent a considerable amount of time in a Walmart store. Courtney Pearce mentioned how noticeable the large quantity of products that are available in the store were as she walked through the aisles of Bowling Green’s Walmart.
According to Pearce, The size of the store, and the variety of products could be a key reason why so many criminal activity is drawn to the store.

Increased press coverage from major publications like the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio have brought attention to a trend of crime-related events surrounding the U.S. retailer. Other forms of criticism have appeared in the form of new websites, which target Wal-Marts motives and reputation. Websites such as Walmart Watch and Hel Mart provide coverage of all of Wal-Marts actions, in an attempt to hold them accountable for negative effects their stores can have on communities. Other websites, such as People of Walmart, encourage followers of the website to upload pictures of unusual occurrences and people that are found in Walmart stores.

While Wal-Mart was unable to be reached for further comment on these emerging sources of criticism, a press release from November 2005 explained the stores low crime-tolerance policy. The company believes that “any crime committed is one crime too many” and spent $246,039,007 on security in 2005.

Jorge Chavez, a Bowling Green State University professor of criminology, does not believe that any crime, or unusual behavior, can be conclusively blamed on Wal-Mart.

“With something like Wal-Mart, which draws a large crowd of people, you can expect a greater increase in crime, based on sheer numbers alone,” Chavez said.

Wal-Mart attracts the highest customer attendance rate of all other grocery retailers in the United States. Wal-Mart’s official website says that 140 million Americans shop at Wal-Mart every week.

Charles Fishman broke down these statistics in his book, The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works – and How It’s Transforming the American Economy. Fishman said that more than “90 percent of Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart.”

However, Chavez said that any other large retailer or institution could just as easily attract a rise in crime. Chavez points to the Bowling Green State University as evidence for his claim.

According to a BG News’ story, Opening weekend events spike population, crime, university police and officials reported an increase in criminal behavior during the move-in weekend for Bowling http://www.bgnews.com/campus/opening-weekend-events-spike-population-crime/article_1fb4b44e-ce19-11e0-997b-001cc4c002e0.html State University students.

With approximately 20,000 students enrolled in Bowling Green State University, the influence of an institution of a large population can increase crime rates, among a small town such as Bowling Green, Ohio. Wal-Mart can influence its surrounding community just as easily as any establishment that attracts people, and Chavez says that it could just as easily be a “Target drawing higher rates of crime.”

Get caught up on all of the behavior at Walmart stores that you have missed by checking out this video over on the Wall Street Journal:

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