Walmart is well known as a burden on the taxpayer. Their low wage practices keep a majority of their employees living below the poverty line, forcing them to continue to rely on public assistance to get by. It turns out, in this one city anyway, that Walmart costs the taxpayers even more in the form of crime.
Port Richey, Florida is a small community in Pasco County, located just north of the Tampa area. It’s not an affluent area, with a median household income of just over $31,000 and a median home value of just under $100,000, both far below Florida averages.
In the Southwest corner of the city sits a Walmart Supercenter. According to Port Richey Police, nearly half of all crime in the city comes from this single location. Those crimes range from shoplifting to domestic assault with a sprinkle of road rage and an abundance of broken car windows. The department says it is dispatched no less than twice a day.
One of the major problems, according to Capt. Bill Ferguson, lies with one of Walmart’s own policies: Their security detectors are evaluated based on the number of people they catch. Often times someone who has been caught stealing in the past and is well-known to the staff is allowed to enter the store so they can be caught again, which requires another call to police and another arrest, rather than stopping that person at the door and refusing them entry.
Captain Ferguson is sick of it. The department has come up with a plan to have officers do hourly walk-throughs and to police the parking lot vigilantly. The department and Walmart are hopeful this will serve as a deterrent and will re-evaluate the plan periodically.
What does all this cost the taxpayer? The City of Port Richey has a $1.24 million annual law enforcement budget. 46% of that would be just short of $575,000. Those are figures strictly by the statistics given and don’t reflect any offsets for other police activities and costs, but even if those offsets proved to be significant, it’s fairly safe to say that this Walmart is more trouble than it’s worth.
Hopefully the new plan will curb the crime, but again – at what cost? With a significant portion of the police force and the taxpayer money they cost dedicated to one location in the corner of the city, what will the effect be elsewhere?
Seems like a lot to pay for the “privilege” of having a taxpayer burden and always low prices which, consequently, aren’t actually that low.