There’s always something exciting going on at Wal-Mart — especially in the parking lot and the bathrooms. This autumn’s back-to-school season has been no exception.
At the end of August, a 22 year old man was arrested for reportedly kidnapping and raping a 3 year old girl in Wal-Mart superstore #359 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The assailant picked up the little girl in the toy aisle of the superstore, and then carried her into the bathroom, where she was raped.
A few days later, a 41 year old woman in southwest Houston, Texas was shot in the back the head as she sat in her car in the parking lot at Wal-Mart superstore # 3296. Police investigators say the woman pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot around 10:30 pm, and two suspects got into her car shortly afterwards and shot her in the back of the head. Her body was discovered shortly after midnight by other shoppers about two hours later.
Just before Labor Day, a shopper at Wal-Mart supercenter # 529 in La Marque, Texas, about 25 miles southeast of Houston, fought off a man trying to steal her car from the parking lot at 3 pm. The woman grabbed a gun from her car’s console and fired several shots at her assailant’s SUV as it sped away.
Two days later, on Sunday, September 5th, shots rang out in the center of the Wal-Mart supercenter # 5124 in Glendale, Arizona. According to Fox News, “A stampede of people charged the exits, while others just dropped to the ground. People were crying and screaming in panic and in shock.”
Three days later, on September 8th, police in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky arrested a man who robbed an elderly man in the parking lot of Wal-Mart superstore # 507. Police chased the suspect through a field and found the 26 year old assailant sitting behind a guardrail, trying to conceal a large amount of cash under his leg.
On the same day, police in New Bern, North Carolina arrested a man who allegedly robbed a bank inside Wal-Mart supercenter #1300. The police noticed the suspect’s car on a highway check, pulled him over, and the man was caught hiding in the bushes.
One day before the Lawrencburg and New Bern incidents, a judge in Prince Albert, British Columbia ruled that a mother who left her newborn son in the toilet of a Wal-Mart bathroom three years ago was not guilty of child abandonment.
One shopper in Houston summed up the feelings that any consumer would have at this point: “You are mostly scared to get out of your car because you never know what’s going to happen around here. I think I’m going to start shopping in the daytime and at night I’m going to stay in because it’s just too bad.”
These incidents are too bizarre to make up, and too frequent to ignore.
Sprawl-Busters has written for years about the incidence of crime at Wal-Mart. The company seems to be unable to develop effective crime prevention programs to protect the safety of its shoppers. Increasing parking lot security at several thousands stores would require a major investment by the company, so the murders and rapes continue to occur with mind-numbing frequency.
Wal-Mart defenders say that the high volume of customers at the giant retailer means that incidents like these will continue to occur, and that they represent a small percentage of the millions of transactions that take place every month. But companies like Wal-Mart should have a zero tolerance policy for crime at their stores — including their parking lots — instead of tolerating a war zone.
If any of Wal-Mart’s top executives suffered a family loss or serious injury at the store, security responses would be enhanced immediately. But for years, Wal-Mart has placed profits over protection.
Readers are urged to email Wal-Mart customer service at: http://walmartstores.com/contactus/feedback.aspx with the following message:
“It seems like your company gets more bad headlines every week about some horrific incident in your bathrooms, in your stores, or in your parking lots. It also seems that Wal-Mart has tuned out such crime as part of the ‘everyday’ experience at your stores.
Shoppers should have the expectation that their visit to your store will not be dangerous, that your stores will maintain sufficient, visible security personnel to deter criminals from preying on the people who come through your doors, and who leave in unsecured parking areas.
Protecting your customers is a cost of doing business. People do not want to feel afraid to shop at your facilties. Your corporate line is that customer safety is important to you — but look at the incidence of crime at Wal-Mart — and you will conclude that not nearly enough is being done.
Around Labor Day, Wal-Mart had a series of murder, rape and shootings — incidents which seem to be so commonplace at Wal-Mart that your management appears content to just ignore the problem unless called out by the local media. Your parking lots have been described as ‘magnets for crime.’
It’s time for Wal-Mart to develop a better public security plan, and mandate that local managers rollback the incidence of crime, just as the company tries to rollback prices.”