Avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things. Millions of armed Americans copy that, and rightly so. There are some locations that clearly tick all the boxes, like a Texas roadhouse at 3am. But there are other places many people don’t associate with crime. Like Walmart. If that’s you, it’s time to change your view . . .
Bloomberg Business Week has just published an eye-opening comprehensive report on crimes committed on Walmart property in 2016. The numbers boggle the mind. Sam Walton’s stores can rack up 1,000 or more calls for police each year, each.
The story noted a number of changes that the Benton, Arkansas-based retailer has instituted that make their stores more inviting to criminals. Fewer employees work the sales floor. Many if not most stores no longer employ greeters. Barely monitored self-checkout scanners lead criminals to think that “no one at Walmart cared, no one was watching, and no one was likely to catch you.”
The parking lot
Eighty percent of Wally World crime happens immediately outside the store. Lots of crime: armed robberies, thefts (lots of thefts), murders, stabbings, shoot-outs, rapes, kidnappings, child abductions, drug deals, stolen cars and plenty more occur with alarming regularity.
It makes perfect sense. Bad guys have plenty of places to hide and most folks are distracted and/or have their hands full. Not to mention Walmart’s majority-female customer demographic. One offender told an investigator:
“I’d been breaking into cars and stuff since I was about twelve. You just go there (Walmart) and if you park, you can just watch people pull up. Like some people, they will put stuff in the trunk. And if you sit there and watch the people, you know which ones put stuff in their trunk or got stuff in their cars.”
Walmart’s parking lots have become the today’s watering hole for criminal predators. And a popular gathering place for ne’er-do-wells.
In 2015, a family from Idaho camped out in a Cottonwood, Arizona store parking lot “to make music.” After pushing a store employee in a restroom, store management called 9-1-1. The night ended with lots of arrests, three shot and one killed.
The Walmart crime wave hasn’t gone unnoticed. In Indiana, a small town mayor threatened to declare the store a public nuisance after a video of a brawl went viral. Mayor Buckley’s threat had teeth: a $2,500 fine for every call to the police. It worked. Walmart now pays for off-duty police to work at the store.
Sadly, many cities still wrestle with an inadequate response from the massive retailer. “The constant calls from Walmart are just draining,” says Bill Ferguson, a police captain in Port Richey, Fla. “They recognize the problem and refuse to do anything about it.”
Don’t be a victim – at Walmart or anywhere else!
Bottom line: your safety at Walmart — or any other big box store — is your responsibility The simplest “solution” to Walmart’s well-documented danger? Don’t go there.
In some small towns, that’s not a practical solution. It’s also true that the same conditions that make Walmart parking lots a watering hole for criminals also applies to other big box stores and supermarkets.
For example, 1 shot in Home Depot parking lot, Man charged with robbing woman at Best Buy, Mountain Brook PD: Woman robbed at gunpoint in Whole Foods parking lot, Police investigate strong-armed robbery in Safeway parking lot, Target Armed Robbery Suspects Captured , etc.
So . . . up your situational awareness when visiting Walmart or any similar store. Pay particular attention when parking. Park in a well lit place, preferably using a space where your car’s not boxed-in on both sides. Before you get out of your car (and after) look for anyone loitering or moving without a sense of purpose. If you don’t feel safe, don’t get out of the car. Drive off and come back later. Make sure your loved ones know the same.
Be extremely vigilant walking from to and from your car. If you don’t feel safe coming out of the store, ask a security guard to accompany you to your vehicle. Always use a shopping cart, even if you only have a couple of items. That cart can act as a barrier between you and a suspicious person. Use it as an obstacle for anyone approaching as you buckle your kids into their car seats or load your car. If someone suspicious approaches you, consider putting a car or cart between you and them.
And don’t forget your best personal safety rescue tool: your gun. (Provided, of course, it’s legal to carry inside the store.) Make sure you’re ready to draw your firearm efficiently, and drop/throw/push away your shopping to get to your gun. Again, your safety is your responsibility, no matter where you go. But at some places more than others.