Originally Published: February 10, 2017 6:01 a.m.
With two stores in Prescott and one in Prescott Valley, police spend a lot of time responding to Walmart.
Certainly, shoplifting is a major reason, but there are others.
PVPD Sgt. Jason Kaufman said police make more than 500 arrests every year at the Walmart in the 3400 block of Glassford Hill Road.
Prescott Police spokesman Dave Fuller said that there had been about 230 calls for service at the Walmart in the 3000 block of Highway 69 and more than 260 to the one in the 1200 block of Gail Gardner Way.
Fuller said that shoplifters try to get away with different hauls, depending on the store.
At the Highway 69 location, the most common things thieves take include television, camping gear, baby formula, food, beer, wine, and energy drinks.
At the Gail Gardner store, beers, wine and energy drinks top the list, followed by blankets, candles, groceries, and the like.
Kaufman said the items taken at the Glassford Hill Walmart are different from the others, with the most common including hygiene products, video games, DVDs, clothing, fishing tackle and knives.
He pointed out that theft of another sort goes on as well.
“Sometimes, people go into Walmart with a whole bunch of old receipts and grab a shopping cart,” he said. “Then they walk around the store … locate items on the old receipts, then go to customer service, and return the items they did not buy” for cash or credit.
“This is beyond shoplifting,” Kaufman noted. “It is fraud.”
“No retailer is immune to the challenge of crime,” said Walmart corporate spokesman Ragan Dickens. “We recognize the importance of this issue at the highest levels of the company, and we are investing in people and technology to support our stores.”
One way they’re doing that, Dickens said, has been to implement programs like one Walmart calls Restorative Justice. It’s in effect in more than 1,500 stores, working with two Restorative Justice providers -- the Corrective Education Company and Turning Point Justice, who in turn partner with NASP (National Association for Shoplifting Prevention). The program offers first-time, low-risk offenders a second chance to make things right by participating in an educational course in lieu of prosecution. The recidivism rate among those who go through Restorative Justice is just 2 percent to 3 percent, Dickens said.
“I can tell you that our programs are in the (Quad Cities) area, but not at all stores,” Dickens said.
“We’re encouraged by a 35 percent reduction in calls to law enforcement agencies nationwide, on average, since we began implementing Restorative Justice and other crime deterrence programs,” Dickens said.
The calls for police to respond to Walmart aren’t confined to shoplifting, said Fuller.
Calls include domestic disputes, harassment, assault, trespassing, drugs, DUI and disorderly conduct.
Fuller said the number and kinds of calls are “due to the volume of consumers that utilize those stores, and the type of crimes related to those populated shopping areas would require more police services.”