Mayor Morris Vance is in a tight spot. On the one hand, his community of Vista, California, is faced with what the San Diego Union-Tribune called a “sharp spike” in crime, and on the other hand, his city is dealing with a severe revenue problem. The overall crime rate in Vista skyrocketed by 24% over the past year. The Mayor blames the weak economy and the unemployment rate just shy of 5%, but one of the Mayor’s law enforcement officials thinks he has the real answer. Wal-Mart. Sheriff’s Lieutenant Grant Burnett says he saw the crime rate rising, and blames it on Wal-Mart. Burnett told the Union-Tribune that a constant stream of shoplifters arrested at Wal-Mart had to be booked by local police, according to the newspaper. “Wal-Mart brought in its own loss-prevention people,” Burnett explained, “and that added tremendously to the amount of burglary arrests for shoplifters.” Naturally, every time the local cops are called in to arrest people for shoplifting at Wal-Mart, it takes police time and money to complete the incident report. One of the unspoken municipal costs of doing business with Wal-Mart is the growing city expense of processing Wal-Mart shoplifting cases. No doubt this expense was not part of the original Wal-Mart presentation when the company first pitched its store to Vista. But now the view in Vista is not so rosy, and the police think that Wal-Mart is a major factor in their woes.
For further examples of the impact of crime at big box stores, search this Newsflash database by the word “crime”. See also the book “Slam Dunking Wal-Mart” for its section on crime at Wal-Mart and other big box, 24 hour stores.