Walmart is making an unusual move to deter theft by providing police a workspace inside one of its stores

Aside from deterring shoplifters, the planned workspace in an Atlanta Walmart would provide a spot for police in the area to recharge batteries and do paperwork.

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An arson-damaged Atlanta Walmart store is slated to include a workspace for police when it reopens in 2024.The location was closed in December after shoplifters lit fires to distract from their thieving.Walmart is tapping City of Atlanta funds to keep the store operating amid a rise in retail crime.

Nearly every Walmart location has a few common departments — grocery, pharmacy, housewares — but an Atlanta store is slated to have one that few others have: police.

Plans call for the Walmart in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood to include a designated workspace for law enforcement officers when it reopens in May next year.

The location has been closed for nearly a year after officials say shoplifters set fires in the store to distract from their thieving. Similar incidents occurred at another area Walmart and a Target.

“Walmart has a long history of supporting local law enforcement, and we remain committed to helping them be successful in the communities we serve,” Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson said in a statement to Insider. “We see efforts like what’s being considered for our future Vine City store as a way to better collaborate with law enforcement and support the community.”

Crowson also said the concept has been tested before with other police departments and stores across the US.

The facilities will serve as a place for police in the area to recharge batteries and do paperwork, per local media reports of a community meeting last week with city officials and company executives, with the likely benefit of deterring shoplifters.

“After talking with the Merchants Association on MLK Drive and Clark University and other people in the neighborhood, folks were saying they want to see more police presence,” Mayor Andre Dickens said, according to Rough Draft Atlanta.

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, the outlet reported.

More than 20 other Walmart locations in the US have shuttered this year so far, typically due to underperformance. The company has not specifically cited retail theft as a reason for store closures, but CEO Doug McMillon has indicated that could change if the numbers don’t turn around.

In January — a month after the arson attacks — Dickens said he and his team “engaged Walmart directly to ensure this store would reopen,” citing the importance of the retailer as a source of affordable fresh food.

Approximately one in four dollars spent at US grocery stores are spent at Walmart, according to retail data service Numerator.

Correction: September 8, 2023 An earlier version of this story inaccurately used the terms “mini police station” and “substation” to describe the planned facility, and incorrectly stated that it would be a first for Walmart. Walmart clarified that such facilities are “law enforcement workspaces” and have previously been used in other stores.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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