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Group Suggests Wal-Mart Is Unsafe for Shoppers

Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Group Suggests Wal-Mart Is Unsafe for Shoppers

(CNSNews.com) - A pro-union, anti-Wal-Mart group is trying a new tack in its campaign to steer Americans away from the nation's largest retailer: fear of crime.

WakeUpWalMart.com, which bills itself as a "campaign to change [unionize] Wal-Mart," is suggesting that Wal-Mart stores may not be safe, given the "high number of reported police incidents at Wal-Mart stores."

The group says its study -- titled "Is Wal-Mart Safe" -- examined the calls for police service in the year 2004 at 551 Wal-Mart stores in 434 cities in 30 states. (Wal-Mart had more than 3,500 stores in 2004). The stores, chosen randomly the researchers said, included those in large cities.

The study found that in 2004, police received 148,331 calls for service at the 551 selected Wal-Mart stores, averaging 269 reported police incidents per store.

For the 551 stores sampled, there were 2,909 reported police calls for "violent or serious crimes," including 4 homicides, 9 rapes or attempts, 23 kidnappings or attempts, 154 sex crimes, 550 robberies or attempts and 1,024 auto thefts, the study said.

"Based on the number of reported police incidents for the sample, it is estimated police responded to nearly 1 million police incidents at Wal-Mart in 2004, costing taxpayers $77 million annually," WakeUpWalMart.com said in a press release.

"Wal-Mart stores have a significantly higher number of reported police incidents than nearby Target stores," the group claimed.

"The high number of reported police incidents at Wal-Mart stores is shocking and outrageous," said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.

"Wal-Mart's customers and the community have a right to know whether or not their Wal-Mart is safe. Wal-Mart should immediately fund an independent study to explore the issue of crime at Wal-Mart stores nationwide and immediately take the necessary steps, including putting in roving security patrols and staffing security cameras, to ensure the safety of its customers at every Wal-Mart store," he said.

WakeUpWalMart.com said it released its study as part of a nationwide initiative called "Help Make Wal-Mart Safe by Mother's Day."

The group said it also has written a letter, calling on Wal-Mart management to "immediately address the public safety issues and concerns of its consumers -- 70 percent of whom are women shoppers -- by taking all of the necessary steps to improve security at all of its stores by Mother's Day."

As a "service to the general public," WakeUpWalMart.com also launched a new website, WalMartCrimeReport.com, which will "collect and disseminate Wal-Mart crime data."

WakeUpWalMart.com describes itself as a national movement of 225,000 Americans in all 50 states who have joined together to change Wal-Mart into a responsible and moral corporation. The group is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Until now, the group has tried to drum up customer dissatisfaction by attacking Wal-Mart's wage and health care policies. The group also has alleged that Wal-Mart may be cheating customers at the cash register.

As Cybercast News Service reported last December, the criticism of Wal-Mart has prompted formation of a group called Working Families for Wal-Mart. That organization hails Wal-Mart's positive contributions, including low prices and job opportunities for people who need them.

See Related Stories:
Wal-Mart Supporters Form New Group to Counter Critics (21 Dec. 2005)
Wal-Mart Must Meet 'Higher Expectations,' Campaign Says (30 Sept. 2005)
Teachers' Unions Join Campaign to Demonize Wal-Mart (10 Aug. 2005)
Leaders of Faith Mark Holiday Season by Bashing Wal-Mart (12 Dec. 2005)
Protesters Target 'Shocking, Secret' Wal-Mart Memo
'Wal-Mart Bank' Draws Opposition From Liberal Activists (24 Aug. 2005)

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