Law enforcement logged nearly 16,800 calls in one year to Walmarts in the Florida counties of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Hernando. That’s two calls an hour, every hour, every day.
Local Walmarts, on average, generated four times as many calls as nearby Targets, the Tampa Bay Times found. Many individual supercenters attracted more calls than the much larger WestShore Plaza mall.
When it comes to calling the cops, Walmart is such an outlier compared with its competitors that experts criticized the corporate giant for shifting too much of its security burden onto taxpayers. Several local law enforcement officers also emphasized that all the hours spent at Walmart cut into how often they can patrol other neighborhoods and prevent other crimes.
“They’re a huge problem in terms of the amount of time that’s spent there,” said Tampa police Officer James Smith, who specializes in retail crime. “We are, as a department, at the mercy of what they want to do.”
Walmart stores, with heavy foot traffic and cavernous layouts, are natural targets for shoplifters, panhandlers and other opportunists.