Walmart: Crime magnet or crime fighter?

Posted at 6:13 PM, Dec 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 00:45:05-05

Walmart says stores across the country are making security improvements despite claims from a major labor union that the retail giant allows itself to be a magnet for crime.

The push comes at the same time as series of high-profile crimes at or outside of Walmart stores across the country, including a shooting Wednesday outside of the store near 95th Avenue and Camelback Road that sent two people to the hospital. 

Walmart says customers should already be seeing more visible personnel on the sales floor and at the doors of many stores. The stores are also making security technology advances, and they extensively use security cameras, according to Walmart.

At the same time, Making Charge at Walmart is rolling out a national campaign to try to force the corporation to hire more staff to further deter crime.  Randy Parraz, a former Arizona political activist, is the public face of the group, which is financially-backed by UFCW, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. 

"We want them to stop offloading their own security concerns onto the taxpayer dollars and relying on 911 calls and local police to pick up their particular responsibility," Parraz said.

He says this is a problem unique to Walmarts, which he claims have cut down on visible staff members that may otherwise make a bad guy think twice before stealing something.

"Target is not having this problem; Macy's is not having this problem," Parraz said.

Steve Franklin, a retired Phoenix arson detective, says Walmart has been a crime-fighting partner.

"If you follow them around and you saw the security team and you saw the technology they have, you'd find they go far and beyond and above what most department stores in the Valley and certainly far above what most convenient stores do to help," Franklin said.

Franklin says Walmart has dozens of high-resolution cameras at every store where he had a case.

"There is not one place that you could not detect a person on a camera - whether it's in the parking lot or anywhere throughout the store," Franklin said.

Franklin adds security teams helped with video clips, receipts and other evidence he needed to solve crimes both on and off Walmart property.