Thursday, August 15, 2013
Wal-Mart high crime rate continues uninvestigaterd
Previously I did a blog about Wal-Mart shoplifting vigilantism gone wild? where I focused primarily on the unusually large problems they have with shoplifting and how they often overreact and that a lot of this was almost certainly partially a result of policies made at the corporate office. This conclusion was partially backed up by a statistical study, "Is Wal-Mart Safe?" based on incidents in 2004, (PDF) which showed that they had four times as many incidents at Wal-Mart than their closest competitor, Target, among other problems. As far as I know there haven't been any other high profile studies that have been done since then but Wal-Mart Shootings have been compiling a list of many of the highest profile incidents that were gun related. These aren't statistically adequate for comparisons with other stores or enough to determine if they're caused by Wal-Mart policies; but a close look at some of these incidents combined with a look at some of Wal-Marts policies indicates that this is a major possibility worth considering especially when considering the statistical back up from the 2006 study. As reported in “Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices.” a study done by Wal-Mart (available at Walmart Shootings) indicates they could reduce assaults in their parking lots almost to zero by posting a roving guard; but instead of doing so they squashed the study, presumably so they could save money on security. This doesn't seem to be a problem when it comes to security for stolen goods.
Research that supports the best interest of the majority of the public and raises doubts about the methods used to maximize profits routinely has a hard time getting funding.
Propaganda that supports corporate interests and biased research has much more funding and when it is done it routinely gets much better treatment from the press and the political establishment even when it is seriously flawed.
Their problems might go beyond shoplifting and assaults as well as other crimes that were addressed in the study. They may also have a major problem with employees that strike out against oppressive policies by Wal-Mart. The vast majority of employees are almost certainly not involved in this, as may be indicated by the large number of protests that have been escalating over the last couple of years. However these protests and legitimate grievances aren't new and they haven't been overly successful, so far in bringing about changes that protect workers right. It is inevitable that a relatively small percentage of people might strike out as a result of this and in some cases they might do it with extreme measures.
There have been at least four high profile cases where employees planned assaults, killings or hostages of their co-workers or managers. In at least one case the perpetrator who shot three managers told a police officer he wanted to “get even and embarrass Wal-Mart.” A typical response to these incidents might be "that's no excuse," which would be true if you consider the definition of "excuse" a justifiable reason for committing a crime; however it may still be the reason for it even if it isn't justifiable. Furthermore there are many more people that don't go to extremes to express their grievances and they aren't addressed. If the government or the companies don't fix the lack of fairness because of the people that go to extremes then they should do it for those that don't go to extremes and attempt to address their problems through reasonable means.
Unfortunately this doesn't happen; and this is almost certainly a major contributing factor to their high rate of incidents.
Another major problem that they've been having for years appears to be an enormous number of bomb threats; however there doesn't seem to be much media coverage of this except at the local level and they treat the vast majority of them as isolated incidents. On the rare occasions where the news stories about these do acknowledge the fact that they are quite common they still don't seem to report on how many bomb threats there are. Few if any of them are in my area and while preparing this blog I was unaware that they were going on at all until I was almost done compiling links about other types of crimes when I found two stories about bomb threats in different states and they were both treated as isolated incidents without acknowledging the other. It didn't take long after that to find out that there have been dozens of them going on over the past few months and when I looked for more it is clear that there have been many more over the years. Without further investigation it is hard to tell how many there are but there almost certainly have hundreds if not thousands of bomb threats over the years.
Most if not all of these bomb threats seem to have been false alarms; however they continue to treat most of them as real threats often closing the stores and evacuating the stores at an enormous expense to the store and the taxpayers. One reason why they may feel they have to do this is that although most of the threats have been false there have also been at least nine incidents where bombs have exploded, presumably without bomb threats in most cases, at Wal-Mart including one incident where there was over $12,000 worth of damage and another where five people were injured. The few examples where they caught people that were suspected of calling in these threats didn't mention their motives. I don't know for certain but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that at least some of these people were angry at Wal-Mart and like the employees who carried out shootings in response to their grievances I wouldn't consider these hypothetical grievances excuses or justifiable reasons for calling these bomb threats but it might be considered all the more reason why they should do more to address the grievances of those who use legitimate means to raise their complaints. There are plenty of other sources to indicate that there have been an enormous amount of problems with Wal-Mart and most people can't get any help from either the corporate office, the government or the media. The corporate office is run by people that only seem to be interested in profit; the media is collecting an enormous amount of advertising dollars from Wal-Mart, not to mention the possibility that they may have interlocking board members; and the government is run by politicians that are more concerned about serving the interests of their campaign contributors including Wal-Mart than the public.
My point isn't that all my conclusions are conclusive; with the information available I wouldn't come to that conclusion. My point is that there is an enormous amount of information to indicate that there are major problems and that the research on it isn't adequate; however there is enough research, including more studies listed below, to indicate that there are major problems and even though all the details aren't conclusive it is clear that Wal-Mart policies are a major contributing factor to them. Wal-Mart responded to the crime study in, Response to Wake Up Wal-Mart’s Crime Study Release; this relatively brief response fails to address the vast majority of the problems raised by the original study and focuses on a few minor issues which it raises about the sampling used for the study. It includes a link to what they refer to as an "independent analysis discussing the defects in the UFCW study;" however the link they provide is no longer active; and many corporations, including Wal-Mart, have a history of either financing their own studies which tend to be biased or misrepresenting other studies. they decline to provide any link to the study they are refuting so unless someone knows where to look they might not realize how many problems there are with their rebuttal. Unlike many other researchers they decline to call for more research which is almost always helpful. They seem to expect people to accept their word for it and pretend their isn't a problem. Their inadequate response to this problem is typical, as indicated in one of the earliest crimes listed below where one of their employees stole a truck while it was being repaired at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart initially refused to accept any responsibility and told the owner of the truck that he should raise his complaint with the former employee who was in jail, had no money and the truck was already stripped for parts. It wasn't until after it became a national story where Wal-Mart agreed to compensate him. this reluctance to address problems unless they absolutely have to has been going on since. Instead of competing for business and maintaining a good reputation they rely on political connections to enable their growth; but that is almost certainly coming to an end.
They have even more problems during the Christmas season and as I explained in, Why no discussion on preventing Black Friday Riots in the media? I have no doubt that if they did more research into that as well they would almost certainly find that Wal-Mart policies are a major contributing factor that cases the annual Black Friday Riots. Many of these crimes involve low income people that have much fewer educational and economic opportunities especially with the outsourcing and wage suppression that is being led by Wal-Mart among other corporations. The usual claim would of course be that this is no excuse and that we shouldn't blame society. this is a very simple and easy answer that many people might be willing to accept; however there is enough research available, if people are willing to look at it, to indicate that if we did more to address social problems that these incidents could be dramatically reduced. this doesn't mean that Wal-Mart is the sole contributing cause of crime or even the leading one; as indicated in other posts I have no doubt that the biggest contributing cause to violence and other crimes is almost certainly early child abuse that leads to more violence later in life. However it is almost certainly a contributing cause; and as long as corporations have excessive control over the political establishment we can't even address other problems properly. Wal-Mart executives also support ALEC which is promoting many other conservative causes that are detrimental to society in other ways as well.
There problems have become so extreme that even if they can convince the media and the political establishment to continue to look the other way they can't hide it.
The following are some additional studies that have been done about Wal-Mart:
Do Big-Box Stores Help Create Hate Groups? Study Says Yes
Study Says The More Walmarts In The Area, The More Hate Groups There Are
Study Exposes Wal-Mart Crime and Safety Issues
Key Studies on Big-Box Retail & Independent Business
Reports and Economic Impact Studies on Wal-Mart and Big Box Development
Recent headlines about Wal-Mart which at any given time will involve additional problems with crime. For comparisons sake this headline search can be done for their competitors if your inclined to do so. When I did so I didn't find nearly as many stories about other stores; but their competitors don't have nearly as many stores. For statistical purposes the 2006 study is almost certainly more reliable pending further research.
The following are some of the crime stories that I found dating back at least to 2000 and a few incidents from the nineties. To minimize redundancy I didn't include many of the stories covered in either Wal-Mart shoplifting vigilantism gone wild? or Wal-Mart Shootings. When it comes to gun related crimes since January of 2012 Walmart Shootings provides a much more comprehensive list of incidents; however there are still a few they missed and this list also includes many incidents beyond their gun related criteria. They're listed in approximate chronological order; however some of them might be dated according to the time the articles were posted, especially when they refer to court proceedings months after the incident.
Shooting Outside Wal-Mart Kills Two 06/12/1999
Man Shoots Wife, Kills Self In Pottstown Store Brian Midgette, 47, Chased Marsha Midgette, 45, In Wal-mart, Where She Worked. She Was Hospitalized. 08/31/2000
Howard Wal-Mart employee charged with assault 01/26/2001
Teens Charged With Setting Off Bombs in Maine Wal-Mart 11/26/2006
Five people were injured in an explosion at a Wal-Mart in Sylva, which is west of Asheville. 09/26/2007
Press Release Assault at Walmart Blvd - Hudson NH Police Department 10/09/2007
Explosive Device Discovered at a Boone Wal-Mart 07/20/2008
Walmart, Landover Hills Complaints & Reviews - ETHICS POLICY VIOLATION. EMPLOYEE ASSAULT, HARASSMENT, PERSONAL INJURY DURING THE ASSAULT, WRONGFUL TERMINATION AND CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS 09/20/2008
Assaulted Walmart Greeter Sues Police Officer and Chattanooga Police Department 02/05/2009
Wal-Mart Bomb Threats Part of National Movement 02/20/2009
1 teen wounded; 1 arrested in NH Wal-Mart shooting 03/04/2009
Homemade bomb explodes at Maryland Wal-Mart 03/16/2009
Wal-Mart employee injured in shooting with co-worker 07/09/2009
Walmart Back Open After Bomb Threat 08/09/2013
Remembering the Walmart bomb threat/CorTrust robbery, one year ago today 09/16/2009
UPDATE: Police arrest Racine man for Mount Pleasant Walmart Shooting 10/18/2009
Walmart Greeter Ed Bauman Fired for Defending Himself After Getting Punched by Customer 01/12/2010
2 Arrested in Aggravated Assault at Walmart 05/30/2010
Attempted Robbery At Wal-Mart In Fayetteville Where Shots Were Fired 09/17/2010
SUTHERLAND v. WAL MART STORES INC: 10/02/2010 Her allegations included maintenance of a hostile work environment based on sex discrimination and retaliation for reporting sex discrimination,
HPD: Homemade bomb explodes at southwest Houston Walmart 11/04/2010
One dead, one injured in shooting at west Huntsville Walmart 12/06/2010
Two killed, two deputies injured in shooting at Port Orchard Walmart 01/23/2011
Fayetteville police arrest 2 in Walmart armed robbery 02/04/2011
Two arrested in attack of elderly Walmart greeter 03/27/2011
Four arrested in Walmart robbery 06/10/2011
One Dead, One in Custody Following Mount Pleasant Walmart Stabbing 10/04/2011
MCSO: Explosive device found at Valley Walmart 11/24/2011
Chardon: Bomb threat forces Walmart evacuation 11/26/2011
Walmart bomb scare leads to arrest 12/03/2011
Danbury police charge 2 in Walmart parking lot shooting 12/23/2011
Sisters stabbed at Providence Walmart 11/25/2011
2 charged in Jacksonville Walmart parking lot shooting 12/27/2011
UPDATE: Gunshots Came After Walmart Shoplifting 04/16/2012
Walmart Bomb Threats Spread Across The Midwest Over The Weekend 07/30/2012
Wal-Mart assault trial set to begin Monday 08/17/2012
Walmart employee arrested for alleged police assault 08/28/2012
Walmart Evacuated Due To Bomb Threat 09/22/2012
Assaulted & Fired at Wal-Mart, Mom Says 10/03/2012
"Buck Bomb" at Chambersburg Wal-Mart causes $12,840 in damage 10/10/2012
Ontario jury awards former Walmart employee $1.46 million for constructive dismissal 10/19/2012
Juvenile charged with second-degree assault after incident at Walmart 11/13/2012
Walmart evacuated 'Perceived threat' brings a chaotic start to Black Friday shoppers 11/22/2012
Fayetteville Walmart hit by armed robbers Thursday night 12/14/2012
Customers frightened as man brings assault rifle into Walmart 12/18/2012
Middle Eastern Man Shot In Face For Dating A White Woman (VIDEO) 01/03/2013
Police: Exploding chemical bomb at Wichita Wal-Mart may have been a diversion tactic for theft 01/17/2013
Deputy injured at Boiling Springs Walmart; suspect arrested after brief chase 02/08/2013
Shoplifter who bit Yakima Wal-Mart officer gets 3 years in prison 03/05/2013
Walmart Employee Assaulted 03/17/2013
Army officer attacked at Walmart in Albany 04/13/2013
Bomb squad called to Beaufort Walmart after suspicious objects found in vehicles 05/09/2013
Police Respond to Bomb Threat at Walmart 06/18/2013
Bomb Threat Closes Bedford Walmart 06/20/2013
Vacaville, California police shoot, kill man, 21, in car 06/29/2013
Russellville police seek 2 for Wal-Mart bomb threat 07/04/2013
Police Arrest Walmart Bomb Threat Caller 07/10/2013
Zimmerman verdict protesters attack TV reporter, storm Wal-Mart 07/16/2013
Walmart Reopens After Bomb Threat 07/22/2013
Powell: Store worker claims gang membership 07/23/2013
False Bomb Threat Gets Pedro Man in Jail 07/25/2013
Police Believe Walmart Bomb Threats are Connected 07/30/2013
Bomb threat at Walmart 07/31/3013
Local Walmart receives bomb threat 08/07/2013
Gastonia man arrested for showing privates at area Walmart, police say 08/08/2013
Walmart worker pepper sprayed after asking to check receipt 08/08/2013
Walmart Back Open After Bomb Threat 08/09/2013
Goose Creek Walmart evacuated for suspicious package 08/09/2013
Walmart in Avon Evacuated 08/11/2013
Homeless mom, daughter accused of stealing from Pasco Walmart 08/12/2013
Robber boldly hits bank in Fayetteville Walmart 08/12/2013
Machete-wielding man robs Mesa Walmart 08/13/2013
Man arrested in Walmart parking lot after robbery08/14/2013
Man wanted for attempted strong arm robbery outside Royal Palm Beach Walmart 08/14/2013
Man stabbed to death in Walmart parking lot 08/14/2013
Man takes a cab to rob Walmart store 08/14/2013
Dickinson police investigate possible suicide in Walmart parking lot 08/14/2013
Strange things happen at Wal-Mart!!