It’s official. The results are in. For the fourth year straight, Wal-Mart has won the top spot as the crime magnet in Tucson, Arizona. The Wal-Mart supercenter at West Valencia Road on the southwest side of the city has a “super” amount of police calls, according to the Arizona Daily Star. It seems the cops in Tucson know the Wal-Mart address quite well. Police responded to calls from Wal-Mart 908 times in 2005, or an average of nearly 2.5 police calls a day. The good news is that the number is down from 2004, when the Tucson police drove over to the Wal-Mart 1,195 times, or 3.3 calls per day. Roughly 45% of the Wal-Mart calls are for shoplifting. Tucson police had to set up “special deployments” at Wal-Mart during the Xmas season to try to hold down the incidence of shoplifting. Looking to put a Smiley Face on the subject, Tucson Police Sgt. Mark Robinson told the Daily Star: “Because they’re on the Top 10 doesn’t mean they’re dangerous places to be. In fact, being on the Top 10 could mean it’s a safe place to be because people care enough to call police.” He described Wal-Mart’s security force as “aggressive.” It turns out that Wal-Mart store officials have been meeting monthly with police, on the public dime, to talk crime-prevention strategy. “We work closely with the TPD to ensure that they spend a minimal amount of time at our stores,” a Wal-Mart spokesman noted. The Daily Star added, however, that along with the petty crimes there were more serious incidents on the incident reports, such as assaults, robberies and shootings.
You won’t find a “We’re #1” sign on this issue in Wal-Mart’s window, but the world’s largest retailer has arguably the largest crime statistics in the retail industry. Over the years, Sprawl-Busters has reported on the significant public safety costs that these big box stores can create, especially in small towns strapped for revenues. For earlier stories on the major cost of police response, search Newsflash by “crime.” For a profile of crime at Wal-Mart specifically, call 1-877 DUNK WAL and order the book “The Case Against Wal-Mart.”