Analysis: Police Visit Walmart Stores Four Times More Often Than Target

Image courtesy of (Alan Rappa)

If you’re an avid consumer of national news, there’s a specific picture that comes to mind when you see the words “Walmart in Florida.” It probably involves people racing store-owned mobility scooters down the aisles while shoplifting iced teas. A recent Tampa Bay Times analysis of police visits to Walmart stores shows that this picture is a slight exaggeration, but not far off: in the four counties surrounding the bay, police head to a Walmart somewhere in the area an average of two times every hour.

Here’s the thing: you can blame the people of Tampa Bay, but the Times compared police visits to the number of calls at nearby Target stores, and even to an entire mall. There were four times as many calls to Walmart, on average, compared to Target.

Maybe 500 of the calls were for serious problems like drug use, violence, or weapons that one isn’t supposed to have in a Walmart. Apart from that, there were 7,000 calls for “potential thefts,” and 2,000 for the general sort of disorder that one would associate with the “Walmart in Florida” stereotype.

“Officers know Walmart is such a regular trouble spot that they routinely show up without being called,” the Times observed. They decide that staying near the stores is efficient, or simply drop in to check whether anything is wrong.

POLICE ARE CALLED TO WALMART MORE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE; YOU FOOT THE BILL [Tampa Bay Times]