August 31, 2005

Concealed Carry

To serve their purposes, most concealed guns never have to be fired. Sometimes, they do:

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - A fatal shooting at an Albuquerque Wal-Mart last week was the state's first by someone with a concealed-carry gun permit, authorities said.

Police said Felix Vigil was attacking his ex-wife with a knife near the store's deli counter where she worked when an armed customer intervened and shot him. The woman, Joyce Cordova, was treated for multiple stab wounds and later released from an Albuquerque hospital.

The armed customer, 72-year-old Due Moore, was interviewed after the shooting last Thursday and released.

Posted by Kevin at 4:53 PM

August 25, 2005

WM Workers Mourned

The two Wal-Mart associates shot by this apparent lunatic are being mourned by their families.

Posted by Kevin at 8:06 AM

August 23, 2005

"I mean, if you were going to steal something, would you steal manure?"

A couple forgot to pay $10 for 10 bags of steer manure. The local prosecutor drops criminal charges, but Wal-Mart pressed ahead and demanded civil damamges:

That could have been the end of the story, except for the letter from the world's largest retailer that soon arrived in their mailbox. It demanded $175 in civil damages from the couple.

That was when the Gastorfs learned about a little-known Oregon law that allows retailers to pursue civil penalties regardless of whether a person is found guilty or innocent of theft.

However, Wal-Mart had a change of heart:
However, Shardon Weber told the newspaper, "after researching the incident, we have decided to refund Mr. Gastorf the money that he has already paid.

"It simply seems like the right thing to do."

H/T: Chris Lindgren

Posted by Kevin at 9:22 AM

August 19, 2005

Not Funny

This rumor has become a form of domestic terrorism:

Police and Wal-Mart officials say rumors that a mother and small child will be killed at Wilson's Wal-Mart Super Center are a localized version of a rumor circulating in North Carolina and other parts of the country.

Sharon Webber, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, Ark., said the same rumor has popped up around multiple stores throughout the country. The corporation is working with law enforcement agencies to investigate the rumor.

"We take every threat seriously," Webber said. "... But at this time, it does appear to be an urban legend."

Snopes traces it back to July in Tennessee:
While the "mother and small child murdered at a Wal-Mart" version is the one circulating in e-mail, another form that the rumor has taken asserts in a more generalized fashion that a woman and a child are to be hurt or killed at a mall or shopping center as part of a gang initiation.

Posted by Kevin at 5:28 PM

August 9, 2005

$500 Voucher Scam

People are being robbed by telephone scammers falsely claiming to be from Wal-Mart:

Local consumers are getting phone calls from telemarketers who claim to be from Wal-Mart. The telemarketers offer $500 in shopping vouchers. Consumers are told in order to receive the gift cards they must pay $4.99 for shipping and handling. The caller then asks for the consumer's personal checking accounty number and more than $4.99 is taken out of the consumer's account.

Wal-Mart has received thousands of calls from all over the U. S. about this telemarketing scam. There is a similar scam going around using the Home Depot name. The telemarketing calls are reportedly coming from the Consumer Rewards Network, a company that has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau in California.

Here's one woman's story; state governments are aware of the scam...

Posted by Kevin at 10:27 AM

June 17, 2005

Woman Accuses WM Associates of Racial Bias

WM associates in Eagan, Minnesota accused Gayle Bryant of writing a bad check, because they were convinced her starter checks (which were naturally missing several security features of standard checks) were fake. They called the police even though the check cashing system approved her check. She claims racial bias played a role. WM and the police deny that.

Let's take a look at the case:

Store employees had accused the Ramsey County social worker of using a bad check to buy $92.69 worth of bottled water and household goods. They called police, who waited for her to leave the store and then stopped her for questioning.

Ultimately, Wal-Mart agreed her check was good and offered $1,000 for her trouble, blaming the incident on an over-alertness for fraud but admitting that employees hadn't followed policy.

Her evidence:

"It's what you feel. It's an internal gut feeling. Race is the last card I pull," she said. "But I know if I went in there and had been white, this never would have happened."
I hate bigots of all stripes, but I need more than her feeling as evidence, especially given the context:
Although Bryant said she believes she was singled out because of the color of her skin, the Eagan Police Department also is emphatic that race played no factor in the incident.

The only factor was what her checks looked like, police said.

"Wal-Mart called us. We'd respond to any call for service," Johnson said.

Employees were on the lookout for fraud because a customer with fake checks had duped Wal-Mart only the night before. Everyone's guard was up when Bryant came in with her printed starter check, he said.

But the mess-up was "absolutely not" race-related, Wal-Mart's Clark reiterated.

It's impossible for us to really know the motives of the accused employees; the author interviews a professor who notes that implicit racial profiling is rampant, but also notes that a large number of the compaints to the Department of Human Rights are dismissed or dropped.

What is the probability that she was singled out for her race? What is the probability that she wasn't racially profiled but sincerely thinks she was?

Posted by Kevin at 7:31 AM

June 7, 2005

On Crime and Gangs

Did you ever read that Wal-Mart raises the crime rate, and that police budgets must swell to meet their needs? I've seen no solid evidence that this happens, although of course a WM will require more police resources than barren land. And anecdotally, crime rates have dropped as the number of Wal-Mart stores has skyrocketed.

I had thought that Wal-Mart might be redistributing crime to nearby areas, but police groups in Napa don't agree:

"Even with all the new home construction in the immediate area (near Wal-Mart) there's really not anything I can come up with that is a problem," Stockton Police Lt. Ron Stansbury said. "There just isn't anything there."

While robberies, murders and gang activity in Stockton push the city's crime rate above the national average, there have been no serious crimes reported at the Wal-Mart Supercenter since it opened last year. Police agencies that monitor retail-only Wal-Marts in Napa and Vallejo also say there is little to buttress the argument that Wal-Mart attracts crime or gangs, despite opponents' fears.

"As far as Wal-Mart goes there's nothing that jumps out at us as far as the number of calls for service. It's about par with any other business that size," Napa Police Cmdr. Steve Potter said....

Vallejo Police Lt. Lori Lee said the Wal-Mart near the city's border with American Canyon is a relatively safe place to be.

"I can say with some level of confidence that our Wal-Mart is not a nuisance," she said. "And probably with our community it's not any different than with the Kmart or Target."

Still, Wal-Mart's hard-line prosecution of shoplifters does take more police resources than other stores. But that a benefit as well as a cost...

Posted by Kevin at 9:39 AM

May 2, 2005

Planning Commissioner Uses Fake ID at WM

One wonders whether this guy had to approve of a WM Supercenter:

VISTA --- Former Escondido Planning Commissioner Bruce Quick pleaded guilty Monday morning to felony charges involving methamphetamine and fraud, and agreed to a sentence of one year in jail...

Quick faced more than 60 charges related to drugs and identity theft. He plead guilty to three felonies on Tuesday, including manufacturing methamphetamine, obtaining false identification, and burglary for trying to use fake identification to buy goods at a Wal-Mart store.

Posted by Kevin at 9:03 PM

April 15, 2005

"Just Wanted the Things"

This just boggles the mind:

A 45-year-old Brownwood man told a police officer why he tried to steal $748 worth of merchandise -- including beer, soft drinks, binoculars and clothes -- from Wal-Mart Wednesday.

The man hadn't had a paycheck in several weeks, and he "just wanted the things" he is accused of putting in a cart and wheeling out the door...

The man told Bastardo he figured since it was his first time to steal, he would get a citation and be sent home.

In other words, Gary Becker is right, criminals do respond rationally to expected punishments. Sometimes, expectations are off...

Posted by Kevin at 3:39 PM

April 9, 2005

The Latest on Tom Coughlin (UPDATED)

Lesson of the day: Never, ever use company money to pay off union insiders:

According to the [WSJ] report, Coughlin last year asked a Wal-Mart employee to approve about $2,000 in expense payments without receipts. The employee said Coughlin briefly mentioned the money had been used for an unspecified "union project."

Coughlin told several Wal-Mart employees that the money was actually being used for anti-union activities, including paying union staffers to tell him of pro-union workers in stores, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

If Coughlin did pay union staffers for information, it would represent a criminal offense under U.S. federal law.

Use your own personal funds!

UPDATE: Tom Coughlin swings back:

But lawyers for Thomas M. Coughlin, in rebutting what the company has called a "disagreement" over expense reimbursements, will argue that although he periodically paid people to keep tabs on organizing activity in Wal-Mart stores, none of the recipients were members of a union, the source said.

Coughlin "believes he was doing what was in the company's interest" by collecting information on union activity, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. In countering the company, his lawyers will contend "he was not stealing" but reimbursing himself for work-related expenses, the source said.

Steven Greenhouse reports that the union folks want Wal-Mart's full cooperation, but some even doubt the existence of moles:
Ms. Williams said a company investigation had found no evidence supporting accusations of money being funneled to illegal anti-union activities. Instead, she said, the money was misappropriated for the personal benefit of specific individuals.

Greg Denier, a union spokesman, said the union did not know of any officials who had accepted payoffs from Mr. Coughlin to inform on pro-union employees. He said he would be shocked if any staffers had accepted such payments.

Federal law prohibits companies or their managers from paying money to union officials to help derail organizing drives. The food and commercial workers have sought to unionize dozens of Wal-Mart stores, but have failed to organize any workers except for those in the meat department of one store in Jacksonville, Tex.

Posted by Kevin at 12:54 PM

April 3, 2005

WM Flasher Arrested

Reader McGroarty emails a perverted use of WM:

On Friday Butler County sheriff's deputies arrested Michael Hamblin, a registered sex offender, on a parole violation.

Grant County deputies say they put him in a lineup and the two girls identified him.

Deputies say he led the girls to the doll aisle and that's where he exposed himself.

McGroarty's comments on the lineup will amuse some of you:
I can see that now...

"Number two, step up!"
"No, it's not number two. He definitely wasn't Jewish."

More:
Middleton said police believe Hamblin had done this at other Wal-Marts.

"It's kind of like a bank robber: if they get away with it once, they'll keep doing it until they get caught," Middleton said.

Posted by Kevin at 6:58 AM

March 10, 2005

Man Steals ATM w/$60K From WM;

This is just bizarre:

The heist, as described in an FBI affidavit filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court in Umatilla County, allegedly began the morning of Nov. 29. About 7:30 a.m., McElvain walked into Wal-Mart with a handcart. The ATM, however, was too heavy. Ten minutes later, he returned with a friend, Shane Giese. The two men wheeled the tarp-wrapped ATM out of the store.

As they strained to lift the machine into a Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle, part of the tarp lifted. Giese glanced in. It was no gun safe, as McElvain had told him earlier. Giese refused to help any further, forcing McElvain to leave the ATM on the parking lot curb, the affidavit said.

The job, it seemed, would require a more specialized device.

The next day, authorities visited McElvain's parents. McElvain's mother, Ida, told authorities her son and another man had been at their La Grande home the previous day working in their shop most of the afternoon. Ida McElvain, the affidavit said, couldn't understand why her son had taken the popcorn cooker, a large, heavy cauldronlike object, off his tilt trailer.

I really like that he could leave it in the parking lot and return later, without anybody questioning what was going on.

Posted by Kevin at 11:06 AM

March 5, 2005

Update on Afaf Saudi

In November, we brought you the story of Afaf Saudi, who accused a WM employee of stealing money from her, kicked an assistant manager, and went limp when police officers tried to take her away.

Now Ms. Saudi has failed to appear in court, and has apparently returned to Egypt to avoid facing misdemeanor charges:


GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Muslim woman whose arrest at a Wal-Mart store prompted an outcry about police tactics skipped a court hearing and is wanted by police.

Afaf Saudi, 68, failed to appear Friday to face misdemeanor charges of simple assault, second-degree trespass and resisting a public officer.

Her attorney, Seth Cohen, told the judge that Saudi had moved back to her home country of Egypt since her arrest in November and he did not believe she planned to return to the United States.

"She thinks she did nothing wrong," Cohen said after the brief District Court hearing.

Judge A. Robinson Hassell issued an order for her arrest on a charge of failing to appear in court.

Saudi, an Egyptian citizen and legal resident of the United States for 12 years, claimed two Greensboro police officers mistreated her after she refused to leave the discount retailer on Nov. 6. She suffered bruises to her wrists and arms and also injured her shoulder and ribs in a fall by a police cruiser.

A police department administrative review determined the officers followed proper procedure.

I received quite some flack for my accusation that Ms. Saudi was pretending to be a victim, and that she let herself be used by Muslim groups wanting to conjure up evidence that there is a crisis of anti-Islam action and sentiment in the U.S..

You all might be interesting in looking at the data on hate crimes against Muslims, from the FBI, and available on the FBI website. In the extended entry, I have pasted those statistics, as part of the relevant text of an email I sent to one interlocutor:


Thanks for the reply. I'm not blowing you off; I just hadn't had time to look at the raw FBI statistics. The 2001 figures are indeed dismal, but here's a time series that indicates a change for the better.

Year Number of Anti-Islamic offences/incidents/victims from FBI Hate Crime Report (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#hate)
1997 31/28/32
1998 22/21/23
1999 34/32/34
2000 33/28/36
2001 546/481/554
2002 170/155/174
2003 155/149/171
2004 Not Avalilable Yet

I was wrong; There was more than a small spike in 2001. I hadn't realized the severity of the increase. But given that there are more than a million self-described devout muslims in the U.S (see table 67 in the statistical abstract http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/04statab/pop.pdf), and far more non-Muslims SE Asians, the probability of a Muslim being a victim of a hate crime in any year is now at most 155/1000000 or 0.02%, or about the same as being killed in a car accident (50,000/300,000,000 http://www.car-accidents.com/pages/stats.html).

For Muslims to be afraid of this is not rational, but understandable. The probability of a Mulsim being a victim of a hate crime is so small that--even though it is 5 times higher than 1997, it is essentially unchanged since 1997.

On a different note, Ms. Saudi treated others brutally--according to 12 witnesses. Frankly, I don't understand Ms. Saudi's actions at all. But I am not shocked that she could be injured by police, if she fought back, which it sounds like she did. Have you ever watched COPS? People who can't speak English aren't beat up; they're detained. How many people are arrested at WM and are not hurt? I'm sorry, but I don't think there's a tremedous conspiracy against this woman. Was she afraid to be a victim, so she fought back? I don't know.

Posted by Kevin at 3:57 PM

Former WM Regional VP Sentenced to Prison

WM is known for being an extremely tough, no nonsense client to its suppliers. Occassionally, a bastard slips through the cracks:

Clifford H. Pruitt Jr... has been sentenced to 16 months in prison for taking kickback payments....

Pruitt will also be on three years� supervised probation and must pay $56,500 in restitution and a $100 special assessment.

Pruitt pleaded guilty May 28, 2004...

Pruitt used his position at Wal-Mart to obtain kickbacks from some suppliers to Wal-Mart in his region.

Posted by Kevin at 3:36 PM

March 4, 2005

Child Labor Settlement Investigation

Wal-Mart illegally let (or required?) dozens of teenagers use chainsaws and other "hazardous" equipment. The settlement with the Labor Department requires a 15-day notice before a Wage and Hour Division investigation can proceed. Some politicians want more money from WM, and others don't seem to like that a private entity will not be subject to immediate scrutiny at their whims:

WASHINGTON -- Connecticut lawmakers are pressing Labor Secretary Elaine Chao for more details about Wal-Mart's alleged violations of child labor laws, including those at 21 Connecticut stores.

In a letter to Chao Thursday, Democratic Sens. Christopher Dodd and Joe Lieberman also questioned the federal government's recent settlement with the retail chain, which requires the agency give Wal-Mart 15 days' notice before any investigation of any store.

It is news to me that all investigations must be delayed; I thought it was some

I cannot find the full text of the letter, and I should like to see that and all the settlement details. What the politicians don't seem to understand is that private organizations have rights under the law not to be subject to harrassment from them.

However, Labor blog has a screenshot of a DOL email sent to district offices. And one commenter notes the following editorial in the Miami Herald:

Most employers -- and unions -- are given advance notice of an inquiry so that they can assemble the necessary documents and personnel for review.

Even with complaint-driven audits of union finances, for example, it is not unusual for a large union to be given 30 days or more to prepare. This isn't for the benefit of the employer or union but to help our investigators do their work.

Anyone who thinks that Wal-Mart or any other employer or union would use the notice period to sweep evidence under the rug does not understand the law. Companies and unions have no incentive to try to hide the evidence because the penalty for most labor-law violations is a civil fine. Hiding or altering evidence of such misconduct is subject to federal criminal sanctions -- including possible jail time.

Posted by Kevin at 10:09 AM

February 22, 2005

Why?

Just why would somebody do this?

WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD -The Wal-Mart Super Center on Garland Groh Boulevard was evacuated Monday night, after a man told an employee he was going to blow the place up.
Hagerstown City Police say 72-year-old James Grant of Hagerstown approached a female employee and made the threat twice.
He had no explosives and waited for the police outside.

Posted by Kevin at 8:44 AM

February 15, 2005

Greet This

WM is known for attracting and prosecuting criminals. Hopefully they get this one:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Police said a man pointed a gun at a Wal-Mart greeter Tuesday and then fled the scene....

Investigators said the greeter asked the man to show his receipt before leaving. When the man didn't, the greeter followed him and asked him again.

Officials said the man pointed a gun at the greeter and fled the store

Posted by Kevin at 6:14 PM

February 11, 2005

Bomb Threats for Quebec WM's

This is not a peaceful, rational, civilized, acceptable form of protest:

GATINEAU, Que. (CP) - Two Wal-Mart outlets in this city received bomb threats on Friday, forcing employees and customers to leave both stores, police said.

One of the stores later reopened after police conducted a thorough search, said Sgt. Andre Pellerin of Gatineau police. Pellerin said the calls came within about 20 minutes of each other.

The threats came a few days after the U.S. retail giant announced plans to close a unionized Quebec store in Saguenay, where employees were trying to negotiate a first contract.

Posted by Kevin at 6:13 PM

February 4, 2005

Explosion at Bodega Aurrera in Mexico City

Will leftist groups start doing this in the U.S.? I sure hope not:

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A small homemade bomb exploded at a Mexico City supermarket owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc early on Friday morning, but it caused no injuries or damage.

The tiny device was detonated in the parking lot of the Bodega Aurrera store owned by Wal-Mart's Mexico unit. Television images showed no damage was done.

Leftist groups occasionally set off small homemade devices in Mexico, usually against economic targets like banks.

Via, get this, Release Americans: Held Hostage by Corrupt Mexi-Regieme.

Posted by Kevin at 11:14 AM

February 1, 2005

Megan Holden Remembered

The Wal-Mart associate kidnapped and murdered had a funeral service attended by over 1000 people.

Posted by Kevin at 7:13 AM

January 21, 2005

WM Associate Kidnapped in Parking Lot

Caught on videotape:


TYLER, Texas -- A clerk abducted from a Wal-Mart Supercenter was sought Friday by East Texas law officers who said a surveillance videotape showed a man lurking around the entrance before the victim was attacked as she tried to drive away from the store's parking lot.

Megan Leann Holden, 19, of Henderson was reported missing Thursday morning when she did not return home from her shift.

More Detiails...

UPDATE: She's been found, murdered, and a suspect is in custody:

A woman who was abducted from a parking lot while leaving work at a Wal-Mart was found shot to death Friday, police said. A suspect was in custody in Arizona.

Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle confirmed the body of Megan Leann Holden, a 19-year-old college student from Henderson whose kidnapping was captured on videotape late Wednesday, was found.

"It is apparent that she has died of a gunshot wound," he said, declining to give details.

A surveillance videotape "shows Megan getting into her truck and the (man) running up behind her and either hitting her or pushing her," police spokesman Don Martin said earlier. "Then the vehicle drives off."

The body was found in Martin County in West Texas, Martin said.

Said Swindle: "At this point in time there's no doubt this was a total stranger abduction."

Authorities in Willcox, Ariz., were holding Johnny Lee Williams, 24, for investigation in the missing woman's case, said Carol Capas, a spokeswoman for the Cochise County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Department

Posted by Kevin at 10:17 AM

January 19, 2005

Taking Photographs in Wal-Mart

Dan Gillmor, advocate for citizen-journalism, notes that Wal-Mart policy is to require permission for anyone who wants to take photographs inside one of their stores:

Wal-Mart's policy that all photos taken on its property must be approved in advance includes breaking news coverage, company spokeswoman Christi Gallagher said.

The company requires the media - or anyone else - to get approval before taking pictures in Wal-Mart stores or on Wal-Mart property, she said.

Asked if journalists photographing unexpected news, such as a fire, need the same permission, Gallagher said they do.

After hours, a journalist should call the company's 24-hour corporate hotline before taking pictures, she said.

We've noted people taking photos and video before, and The Computer Vet has some very nice ones from 2002.

A reader at Dan's links to the discussions at dpreview and PhotoPermit.

Promoters of citizens' media implicitly believe the costs of Wal-Mart's no-photo policy are greater than its benefits. However, they never actually list or discuss its benefits...

Posted by Kevin at 1:43 PM

January 17, 2005

WM Manager Confronts Reporter in Parking Lot

Lee Oliver has a very short video (link) of a Wal-Mart manager allegedly committing battery on him:

Port Saint Lucie
(Florida)-- January 8th 2005. While responding to an EMS call at the Wal-Mart Superstore on Highway US 1 in Port St. Lucie, Florida, photo journalist Lee Oliver was allegedly assaulted by the stores co-manager known (at this time) only as Phillip. What began as investigating a story of a collapsed customer (later, facts proved that it was merely an employee who felt ill.) Mr. Oliver entered the store to request permission for an on-camera interview but was denied and asked to leave the store. Mr. Oliver left immediately without incident. After leaving the store Mr. Oliver began shooting what is known as background footage of the ambulance in the parking lot. Whilst filming the ambulance he was approached by the co-manager known as Phillip. Phillip asked Mr. Oliver to turn off the camera then grabbed the lens of the video camera. Mr. Oliver asked why Phillip was was so adamant regarding the cessation of filming, but received no answer. The co-manager briefly released the camera, however when Mr. Oliver identified the co-manager by name and title, Phillip responded by quickly grabbing the top of the cameras lens-hood and forcefully pushed it forward into Mr. Olivers' eye. This action caused bruising to Mr. Olivers' right eye and caused damage to the video camera.
IMHO, Philip's actions were wrong, but not "assault." Clearly, the man was foolish, had no right to stop Mr. Oliver from filming in the parking lot, and should have not touched his equipment. But personally, if that's "assault," I've been assaulted worse over 100 times by people bumping into me accidentally. The police were right; touching the camera forcefully was (allegedly) battery (link):

Battery is the intentional touching or striking of a victim against his or her will causing the victim harm.
Battery is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida (link) punishable with up to a year in prison, although I think if convicted the man would receive only a fine.

Also, I'd like to see the claim Mr. Oliver has made with the insurance company, and whether or not that claim has been reviewed, because from the video it doesn't appear that the camera was actually damaged (it's hard to tell).

In addition, how do the inactions of WM's insurance company imply that "Wal-Mart either does not take alleged attacks by managers seriously, or that there are so many complaints that it takes quite a while to get back to all of the alleged victims." ?

As for WM, it MUST do better job than this apparently lackadaisical response, especially when dealing with indy media.

Posted by Kevin at 1:01 PM

January 12, 2005

When Will the Criminals Learn?

Conducting petty theft at Wal-Mart might seem like a good idea to those hard pressed for cash; that is, unless you think of robbing a 79 year old woman like Faye Sayer:

It was Monday, Faye was shopping at Wal-Mart in Exeter Township when a man walked up and stole her purse. So, Faye went after him, grabbed the suspect by the lining of his coat, and didn't let go!

"I was yelling 'somebody's got my purse, please help' and nobody came. So I hung on to him until I fell down."

She held on long enough for Wal-Mart security to arrive and hold the man until the police arrived

Fool.

Posted by Kevin at 8:28 PM

January 5, 2005

How to Steal from Wal-Mart

Is your local Wal-Mart lax enough to let this happen?

One man made off with more than some early morning deals New Year's Day, stealing thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from the Walmart in Springfield [, Oregon].

Store surveillance cameras caught the thief in action, both as he stole the jewelry and later when he returned with several friends.

No word on how much or what was taken. Sergeant Mike McCarthy, with the Springfield Police, says he's surprised at the boldness of the theft. "Usually not so brazen to do it when there are employees walking around. Obviously they could look over and see him and say 'hey he's not supposed to be behind the jewelry counter'."

Obviously they didn't.

Posted by Kevin at 11:46 AM

December 30, 2004

WM Workers Shoot & Kill Cat (UPDATED)

This is sick, stupid, and disgusting:

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- Two Wal-Mart employees who police say followed a manager's orders to shoot and kill a stray cat have been charged with federal animal cruelty.

[Christopher Anderson, 29, and Jeffrey Hardin, 21], both assistant managers at the Supercenter, were arrested and released after a court appearance Wednesday.

All managers potentially involved in the incident have been suspended without pay...

Store manager Darrel Weitzel told police he had told some of his employees to get a gun and get rid of the cat after attempts to coax it from the trailer failed, according to a police report.

They used a pellet gun.

UPDATE: Maybe prosecutors jumped the gun, as it's not against the law to kill stray animals on private property in Indiana...

Posted by Kevin at 12:06 PM

December 23, 2004

More Scum at WM

I. It is my untested theory that WM does bring more crime to an area, but it also lowers crime elsewhere. Why? WM is so large that perps believe that disgusting conduct will go unnoticed:

(KSL News) -- Police are trying to find the witness to an incident of sexual abuse at a Salt Lake WalMart.

Officers arrested Alan Michael Naisbitt last Friday. They say he approached an 11-year old in the 1300 South WalMart area and touched her inappropriately.

A witness saw what was happening and cornered Naisbitt until authorities arrived. But the witness left before police could interview him. And now they want to talk with the man.

He's in his early 20's, about 5' 10".

II.WalMart also brings out the men too stupid to realize that leaving a 3 year old in a car for 20 minutes while he shops at WM is a terrible idea:
The man accused of leaving his little boy locked in a freezing cold car is due in court Wednesday. Police found the 3-year-old in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Shelby Township, while his father shopped inside.

Lt. Stephen Stanbury, of the Shelby Township police, told 7 Action News, "It may not state specifically in the law that you cannot leave your child in the car alone, but too many bad things can happen when you leave a child unattended."

This is why Shelby Township detectives have arrested a father who allegedly left his 3-year-old son alone in a parked car while he went shopping Sunday night at Wal-Mart.

Lt. Stanbury stated, "He said that he was only running into the store for 20 minutes."...

Police were so worried that they shattered the car window to get the toddler out.

The father is really pitiful:
7 Action News viewers got their first look Wednesday at the man accused of leaving his son in a freezing cold car while he shopped inside of a Wal-Mart. Eysian Liu was arraigned on capital abuse charges and could face up to 4 years in prison.

The father was in tears in the courtroom, and in his broken English, he was able to make it clear to everyone present that
he was sorry.

Liu told the court, "I'm so sorry that I caused this problem."

40-year-old Liu is charged with child abuse, after authorities say he left his 3-year-old son in a locked car outside of a Shelby Township Wal-Mart when it was just 2 degrees outside.

Liu told the magistrate that he is a Canadian citizen, who has worked hard as an engineer to support his wife and two children.

After entering a not guilty plea on the defendant's behalf, the magistrate asked Liu's wife if she thought her husband would harm their children.

Liu's wife replied, "I never even dare think about it. He is really a good father. He made a stupid mistake, but he is a good father."

The judge allowed Liu to be freed on a $5000 cash bond, and also allowed him to be back with his children, as long as his wife is present at all times.

Posted by Kevin at 10:22 AM

December 14, 2004

WM Underwear Theives

Don't even try stealing underwear from WM:

BURLINGTON - Maybe it's something in the air.

A South Point woman was arrested late last week after allegedly trying to steal more than $500 in underwear and cosmetics from the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Burlington....

That same day, Cory Baughman, 22, and Maria Baughman, 22, both of Huntington, W.Va., were charged with theft after they allegedly attempted to steal a pair of shoes and several pair of underwear from the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Posted by Kevin at 11:32 AM

Predator Lures Girls to Wal-Mart

Some people use WM in the most foolish and evil ways:

A mid-Michigan teacher is facing charges after allegedly inappropriately touching 2 teenage girls in Jackson County. Police say 47-year-old adult education Teacher Barry Baron of Haslett was arraigned on 2nd and 4th degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Blackman Township Police say Baron approached 2 teenage girls Saturday night and offered to take them shopping at a Walmart in Blackman Township. After going to the store, the girls were able to get away and call the police.

Posted by Kevin at 11:24 AM

December 5, 2004

Cocaine at WM

We previously noted an ecstasy bust in a WM parking lot. Now comes the cocaine:

[L]aw enforcement officers set up surveillance in the Wal-mart parking lot in Brookfield to watch the transaction between the three suspects take place.

Officers seized approximately 18 ounces of cocaine with a street value of about $48,000.

WM is often accused of increasing crime in areas near the store. Does it actually increase crime overall, or just concentrate it in a smaller area?

Posted by Kevin at 4:03 PM

WM & Sex Offenders

In 2000, two young girls were molested by two WM employees, both of whom had previous records as sex offenders. Now, the North Carolina government is considering requiring all large businesses to check applicants against a sex offender database:

Wal-Mart won�t say how many convicted sex offenders it has kept out of its South Carolina stores since it began doing criminal background checks about a month ago on all new hires.

Wal-Marts in 46 states, including South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, are now doing the checks, Wal-Mart spokesman Gus Whitcomb said last week.

South Carolina stores have been doing them about a month, he said, but he would not say how many applicants had been rejected because of the background checks.

The Arkansas-based retail giant also won�t say whether any people already employed were found to have sex offense records and were removed from their jobs.

Because Wal-Mart hasn�t been forthcoming, a Charleston legislator said last week he has not ruled out filing a bill requiring all major retailers in the state to do background checks on prospective employees....

�I�m going to take a wait-and-see approach,� said Limehouse, a Republican. �If I feel things in South Carolina are moving in the right direction in terms of Wal-Mart � where most of the problems appear to be � then I might not file this bill.�...

Limehouse said he believes known sex offenders, particularly those convicted of offenses involving children, should not be allowed to work in Wal-Mart stores.

�With a sex offender, once they start, they do not stop � especially an adult who preys on children.�

While the very high recidivism rate for sex offenders has no chance of being lowered, refusing employment to those who have finished their jail term and probation could lead to enormous legal and ethical problems for the NC criminal justice system.

Just where will sex offenders permitted to work? Minor (small) retailers? Nowhere?

That's not a feasible solution, unless all convicted and released sex offenders are to be given welfare checks to cover food, clothing, and shelter expenses. Otherwise, this really implicitly extends to life the punishment for sex offenses, which, if done formally through statute, might be considered a punishment that's too severe...

Posted by Kevin at 3:48 PM

December 1, 2004

Ecstacy at WM

Glenn Reynolds is hot on the trail of marijuana and prostitution at target.com through Amazon. Walmart does Target one better, by outsourcing provision of ecstacy to third-parties in the parking lot:

Macon County Sheriff's Deputy Terry Atkins received reliable information from an informant on Tuesday, November 23, that Mitch Cliburn, age 18, of RBS Road, was transporting ecstasy tablets to the Wal-mart parking lot in Macon County for re-sale to another individual.

Deputy Atkins and Captain Darrell Taylor proceeded in a marked patrol unit to Walmart. Chief Deputy Robin Gregory and Detective Jimmy Hardin proceeded to Walmart also in a marked patrol car....

[Cliburn] was placed under arrest and transported to the Macon County Jail where he was placed on $30,000 bond. He was charged with possession of schedule I narcotic and possession of schedule I narcotic for resale.

At least there's no extra charge for shipping.

Posted by Kevin at 12:55 PM

November 15, 2004

Bomb Scare at Arroyo WM

Thankfully, this was just a scare tactic:

ARROYO GRANDE - More than 100 shoppers were evacuated from the Arroyo Grande Wal-Mart store Sunday after a reported bomb threat.

No bomb was found, authorities said....

The store's assistant manager, Joy Brehm, said that customers were evacuated under the guise of an impending power outage. That tactic, she said, was standard procedure for the retail giant.

"We didn't want everyone panicking," she said.

After the customers were outside, Brehm said she told them the truth and apologized....

It might seem crass to discuss lost sales, but if the intent of the bomb scare might just be anti-WM hooligans trying to harm the bottom line:

"We don't yet know about how much profit we lost, but it was a weekend day," Brehm noted. "It wasn't fun, but it wasn't as bad as I thought because the customers were so awesome."

She said many had been supportive of her and the store, and were eager to resume shopping.

"Whoever did it did more good than harm," she said. "I don't think the customers appreciated it, so it was almost like they were determined to come back and get their stuff."

MORE GOOD THAN HARM! Are you kidding me?!?!?!?

Posted by Kevin at 2:17 PM

November 11, 2004

Linux got me kicked out of WM

quickcam.jpgOne creative man had the beautiful idea of using his Linux-running laptop and cheap Quickcam to record movies inside of a WalMart. Security was not amused:

One weekend we rented a car to visit Conneticut and brought our computer into a Wal-Mart on the way home. We set up Ryu-Oh in a cart, booted, rolled into the store and shot a few movies, driving in circles through different departments. In the toy section we stopped to take a portrait of Ryu-Oh and its operators. Customers and employees were oblivious to us until a few snapshots taken with a flash attracted attention. A Wal-Mart security woman found us and asked if she could help. We said no, so she asked what we were doing. We replied vaguely that we were taking a few pictures. She told us that wasn't allowed, so we'd have to leave or she'd have to take them. Afterward we wondered what would have happened if they'd tried to search the computer. Would they have had anyone who could have figured out how to log in? We left without finding out, with hundreds of images awaiting compression.
Grainy videos are available for download...

Posted by Kevin at 6:22 AM

November 10, 2004

More than a Scuffle

Afaf Saudi was arrested for assult in a Greensboro Wal-Mart, sustaining serious injury. The local Islamic Center of the Triad immediately demanded an apology. The police were not forthcoming, since they think no excessive force was used:


Local Muslims and police officers agree only on this much: About 3 p.m. Saturday, Saudi was in the check-out line at Walmart.

Police say she became irate and refused when she was asked to leave the store. Saudi�s arrest report states that she kicked an assistant manager in the chest. Gunn said Saudi also lay on the ground to resist arrest by Neal.

Saudi was charged with resisting arrest, assaulting a Walmart employee and refusing to leave the store. Her court date is set for 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 6.

But Helmi said his mother tells family members a different story: At one point during her shopping, she forgot where she had left her shopping cart and pocketbook. She eventually found them and headed for the check-out line, where she discovered $150 missing from her purse.

She told Helmi she was embarrassed and confused that her money was missing � and unable to tell the clerk why she was upset. She claims the people around her began laughing, which upset her even more.

Now 12 witnesses say excessive force wasn't used, that the woman speaks English and is lying about her arrest:

GREENSBORO � Twelve witnesses say a police officer didn�t use excessive force when he arrested an elderly Egyptian woman at Wal-Mart on Saturday, according to police Chief David Wray....

The incident happened Saturday afternoon after Saudi�s daughter-in-law dropped her off at Wal-Mart. On Monday, Wray and department spokesman Brian James summarized eyewitness accounts:

Saudi wanted to buy a $70 piece of jewelry, but handed the clerk $20. When the clerk asked for more money, Saudi implied that the clerk had stolen money from her purse. Store management tried unsuccessfully to solve the problem, then called police while Saudi sat in a chair.

Saudi was speaking English until police arrived, then began speaking Arabic and French. Two store employees, one who spoke French and one who spoke Arabic, asked the woman to leave the store.

Saudi refused.

Officers lifted her. When she went limp, they put her down.

The officers put her in a wheelchair, then handcuffed her when she started flailing her arms. They tried to roll her out of the store, but she put her feet down so the wheelchair wouldn�t move.

When a store manager put her feet on the footrests, Saudi kicked him in the chest.

Wray said Saudi has had other disputes with Wal-Mart employees, but he would not elaborate.

In response, the Islamic Council is insisting that, of course excessive force was used against a Muslim, and spewed forth with lies about violence and hatred against Muslims:

We know there is no possible justification for this type of treatment. We are also aware that police brutality and killings have increased dramatically in recent years, and that since Sept. 11, 2001 a vicious new form of racial profiling has been put into effect against Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants.
Just pathetic self-victimology. And this from an organization that once had a rabid anti-Semite come to speak.

Posted by Kevin at 11:20 AM

May 17, 2004

Meth at WM

The sport of busting people for buying the ingredients to manufacture meth continues unabashed. One wonders how frequently this happens in the US:

Items on one shopping list sent five people from the checkout of an eastern Kentucky Wal-Mart to a jail cell...

Hazard policeman Isaac Whitaker, "One young man purchased some generic medication containing pseudoephedrine. The other young man purchased clear tubing and lithium batteries."

The suspects have been charged with complicity to manufacture methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Posted by Kevin at 9:36 AM

May 7, 2004

WM's Effect on Rural Police

An excellent survey article on the challenges that a WM can put on a rural police force:

But different agencies report varying experiences. The majority of the more than 30 small to mid-sized police agencies around the country who agreed to be interviewed for this story said their departments are able to effectively handle the increased calls for service Wal-Mart brings. A few reported no corresponding crime spike and only negligible increases in calls to police.

Overwhelmingly, police chiefs defended Wal-Mart as an asset to the community and helpful to law enforcement, providing full access and information for investigations and grants to fund police projects, to say nothing of the tax benefits the store brings the community.

The only thing I would add is that if crime increases in one rural town, it is likely to decrease in the neighboring towns.

Posted by Kevin at 5:52 PM