East Lampeter, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Dale Jerchau has an epidemic on his hands. The Wal-Mart supercenter in his town, he says, “is trying very hard to conrol the problem, but it is an epidemic.” The Chief told The Philadelphia Inquirer that in his town of less than 14,000 people, “For some reason, people around here think you can go into there [Wal-Mart] and steal. Each year, they catch more, and each year, we arrest more, and the problem continues.” There is so much crime at the local Wal-Mart, that Lancaster County District Judge Ronald Savage holds a day of preliminary hearings reserved just for Wal-Mart offenders. Wal-Mart cases make up one-quarter of all the Judge’s non-traffic preliminary hearings, so he has a special “Wal-Mart Day” in court. Wal-Mart customers make up for 80% of his shoplifting cases. The Judge told the newspaper he is “overwhelmed with shoplifters” and others arrested at the Wal-Mart 24 hour supercenter, which is located five miles from his courtroom. “We’re changing the legal system because of one superstore,” the Judge said. According to the Inquirer, “a new Wal-Mart can also bring its own crime wave.” The paper reports that Chester County, PA has had so many arrests at Wal-Mart, that officials in the town of West Sadsbury are considering creation of a special taxing district for the Wal-Mart shopping center area. The additional money would pay for more police officers to handle the burgeoing arrests. The Wal-Mart supercenter in East Lampeter opened in 1997, and according to the newspaper, “quickly generated a surge in shoplifting arrests that has clogged the court, helped fill the local jails, and strained the local police.” And who is paying for the added police, court and jail personnel? The taxpayer, not Wal-Mart. In 2002, Wal-Mart accounted for 210 out of 270 retail theft arrests in Judge Savage’s court.
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, the Wal-Mart Court is now in session, the Honorable Judge Ronald Savage presiding. The county taxpayers are subsidizing Wal-Mart’s day in court. For similar stories about the financial burden that crime at Wal-Mart places on communities, search this database by “crime”, or get a copy of Al Norman’s two books, which include chapters on Wal-Mart criminal activity.