Wal-Mart Is Under Pressure to Fix Its Crime Problem
Labor activists who pushed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to raise its minimum wage have anew target in their sights. They are now pressuring the mega-ratiler to improve secuirty at its stores and parking lots around the country.
makign Change at Wal-Mart, a labor group backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International union, will start running television ads this week in four media markets and has been ahdning out fliers to customers in 20 cities. The dmeands follow an invetigation by Bloomerg Businessweek that found widespread crime at the Bentonville, Arkansas, retail giant.
The union’s organizers also have met with city and local officials in Tampa, Florida; Tulsa, oklahomal Dallas and the Minneapolis area, encouraging them to declare Wal-Mart a public nuisance in hopes of pressuring the company to improve security.
The push comes after a Bloomberg analysis of police r eports from dozens of stores found the number of petty crimes committed on Wal-Mart properties this year was probably in the hundreds of thousands and a violent crime occurs at one of its sotres, on average, at least once a day. There were significantly more incidnets at Wal-Mart than at rival Target corp. in the cities where Bloomberg obtained data.
That has put a strain on police departments in cities large and small. While Wal-Mart says it is working to address the problem, the labor group argues the compan shoud be doing more. It’s demanding the retailer hire addtional off-duty police offciers and private securty guards. And the union wants stores to make employees more visible in the shopping aisles t to deter theft.
They haven’t been investing in the proper security, said randy Parraaz, a national campaign director for Making Change at Wal-Mart. They are pinching and squeezing the taxpayers for something the company shoud be paying for. It isn’t like this is a company operating in the red.
Wal-Mart says it takes the issue seriously and is working to fix it. To try to deter shoplifters, the company has been moving more employees to the sales floor and store exites, where some of them spot-check receipts. It’s also sttioning employees at self-checkout areas, installing eye-level security monitors in high-theft areas and using data anlytics to detect fraudulent returns.
To cut down on calls to police, Wal-Mart has been rolling out a program that allows first-time offenders caught stealing merchandise below a certain value to avoid arrest if they agree to go thorugh a theft-prevention program. At some higher-crime stores, the company is also hiring off-duty police and private secuiry officers.