Walmart's so done with crime that they're building police departments. Well, kind of.

a gang standing infront of their cars by Kajetan Sumila is licensed under Unsplash
ATLANTA, GA – As videos make the social media rounds of unchecked retail theft across the country, one superstore is partnering with police and city government to try to slow down the loss.

One Atlanta-area Walmart is reopening after looters started a fire as a distraction to get away with stolen merchandise. While it will have the typical departments like a pharmacy and a bakery, this particular location will also host a substation of the Atlanta Police Department.

Business Insider reported that officials confirmed that a fire at a Target on Monday was being investigated as arson, along with a pair of similar incidents at two local Walmart locations back in December.

According to the Atlanta Fire Department, those blazes appear to have been set by shoplifters in order “to distract attention from their heists.”

"Arson is an extremely violent crime that not only destroys property but also places firefighters, first responders and the general public at great risk," an arson supervisor with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, said in a statement.

As reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “crime and violence are on the rise. A recent Retail Workplace Survey by Loss Prevention Magazine indicates that 60% of retail workers saw some form of violence on the job over the past 12 months.”

While places like Walgreen’s and CVS, who have closed store in places like San Francisco and Chicago, have been getting a lot of media coverage, larger “superstores” seen millions in losses.

“Theft is an issue. It’s higher than what it has historically been. We’ve got safety measures, security measures that we’ve put in place by store location,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in late 2022.

“I think local law enforcement being staffed and being a good partner is part of that equation, and that’s normally how we approach it. If that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher, and/or stores will close.”

McMillion’s prediction has come to fruition. Halfway through 2023, the Sam Walton-founded corporation had closed down 22 stores, with four of those stores being in the Chicago area. More than 1/3 of those closing were across Illinois, with eight stores.

“These stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years,” Walmart wrote in a press release following the Chicago closures.

“We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the city...It was hoped that these investments would help improve our stores’ performance. Unfortunately, these efforts have not materially improved the fundamental business challenges our stores are facing.”

Facing many of the same challenges, the two Atlanta-based Walmart locations closed. The Howell Mill Road Walmart will remain permanently closed, but the retail giant is reopening the Vine City store with the APD substation.

Walmart also partnered with the city of Atlanta in getting the store operational, though it will now be a reduced-size Neighborhood Market.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens addressed the crime being felt in the area of the store, saying, “After talking with the Merchants Association on MLK and Clark University and other people in the neighborhood, folks were saying they want to see more police presence."

The mayor also said Walmart will tap city funds from a recently approved $1.5 million initiative to expand fresh grocery access in low-income communities, Business Insider reported.
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