Not long ago Wal-Mart stores found themselves in a unique catch-22 dilemma. While corporate policy has always placed priority emphasis on crime prevention, their stores division intensified that focus and went all-out in making shoplifting detection and prevention a priority.
As the stores’ focus became more successful than anticipated, more and more shoplifters were being apprehended and turned over to the local police. At the same time, both Wal-Mart and law enforcement agencies jointly began to recognize that this “thief catching” initiative was also creating manpower difficulties for some police departments; a catch 22 you might say.
For example: A review of one hundred and twenty-six pages of one store’s police-call-log indicated that during a five-year period, the local police were called over 5,000 times. Furthermore, according to a media analysis of the company’s 4,500 stores nationwide, literally hundreds of thousands of police assistance calls will have been processed by year-end 2016. (These calls were not simply for shoplifting; more than 200 were for violent crimes.)
Reducing crime continues to be a corporate priority within Wal-Mart. In addition to increasing associate coverage at exits and self-checkouts, installing security cameras in high-theft areas, and using data analytics to detect fraudulent refund transactions, as well as a series of other security and loss prevention strategies, the organization has rolled out its newest anti-crime program.
Wal-Mart’s latest anti-shoplifting strategy is called Restorative Justice. The goals of this newest program are two-fold: 1.) Give first offenders an opportunity to avoid the criminal justice system and a criminal record by giving them the option to take an eight-hour online anti-shoplifting course and 2.) Minimize the precious amounts of hours local police spend answering store calls and responding to theft situations; therefore being diverted from other types of calls and/or emergencies requiring police response.
One media source reports that local police departments indicate that since the Restorative Justice strategy was rolled out last spring, the impact has been dramatic. Another indicates this program is available in one-third of Wal-Mart stores, and on average there has been a 35 percent drop in police assistance calls nationwide. Naturally, police departments across the country are in favor of programs such as this as it allows more police to be on the streets.
Hats off to Wal-Mart for their “Thinking Out of The Box!” $