• Metro prosecutor has warning for Walmart: Cut crime or get out

    By: Tony Thomas

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett county prosecutor is taking on Walmart, telling the discount retailing giant to deal with crime concerns at its stores.

    Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas requested crime stats from police departments and found law enforcement officers responded to calls for service at Walmart store across Gwinnett more than 3,000 times in the past 12 months.

    The cases ranged from everything from a homicide and a carjacking to hundreds of shoplifting cases.

    The county’s solicitor says if Walmart won’t clean up its act, he’s taking the company to court.

    “We need to do something about it,” the solicitor's chief investigator, Travis Gatson, said. “Enough is enough.”

    Thomas said he randomly went to a Walmart in Liliburn on Monday. When he got there, he found two police cars parked in front. Officers say that's not unusual. Records show about 70% of the city’s shoplifting calls happened at the one store.

    It’s reasons like that, that the Gwinnett County Solicitor's Office wrote a letter to Walmart insisting the stores need to be held accountable if they can't control crime.

    At the Lilburn store, managers have installed extra security camera's on poles in the parking lot.


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    “You’re not satisfied with this?” Thomas asked Gwinnett County Solicitor Brian Whiteside.

    “The cameras are for after the fact. We want crime deterred before the fact,” Whiteside said.
    Whiteside is threatening to begin citing Walmart for nuisance violations.

    “We are asking that Walmart have certified off-duty police officers to add a deterrent of protection,” Whiteside said.

    Through open records requests, Thomas got statistics from calls for police to 11 different Gwinnett County Walmart stores.

    In Lawrenceville, two stores accounted for 846 calls in the past year. Of those calls, 224 for were for theft.

    Gwinnett County police cover six stores across their jurisdiction and say they responded 710 times to Walmart stores and 293 of those cases were for shoplifting.

    Not everyone thinks crime is a problem at the stores.

    “Not at all. I don’t have a problem. I've never had an encounter either,” customer Greg Fields said.

    Thomas contacted a Walmart spokesperson Monday morning and was told executives are working on a response to the solicitor’s letter and the complaints.

    So far, he hasn’t received a response.

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