Walmart is a retail giant that's committed to low prices. It's something one store director touted at a recent grand re-opening of the Walmart Supercenter on Highway 40 in Kansas City.
"We know that economically our dedication is to being a low price leader," Josh Williams, a Walmart store director said.
Walmart's in-house security, or loss prevention officers, help keep prices low by watching out for shoplifting. However, 41 Action News discovered that stores in the metro often rely on local police departments instead of private security to keep stores safe.
"Typically when they call us, it's because there's been a shoplifter,” said Officer Debra Guieb with the Overland Park Police Department. "Occasionally there'll be some homeless people who go in and they don't want to leave.”
Guieb starts many of her shifts driving thru the parking lot of the Walmart at 7701 Frontage Road right off I-35 near 75th Street.
"A lot of times I’ll do reports in the parking lot, I think just being visible may help deter crime," Guieb said.
The Walmart on Guieb's beat is the number one business Overland Park police have been called out to -- with 923 calls since 2013.
That's compared to all of Oak Park Mall -- with 870 calls since 2013. Target didn't make the list.
As for the Walmart at 117th and Metcalf -- 641 calls, followed by the Walmart Supercenter at 157th and Metcalf with 584 calls.
"There are career criminals that that's all they do is go to the store and steal them blind and they'll go to another store and they'll return it and get the money back for whatever they brought in depending on the policy," Guieb said.
Last summer, a Roeland Park mom made headlines after she stole $300 worth of goods. Instead of arresting her, the officer paid for the items she stole.
Figures from Roeland Park Police show officers responded to that store 344 times in 2015, down slightly from the 366 calls the year before.
KCPD say a thief targeted the Walmart Supercenter on Highway 40 demanding money at gunpoint. According to the department, the store ranked 16th on the service call list with 123 calls. In 2014, there were 97 calls to the 40 Highway Walmart and the year before that, 91 calls.
Earlier this month, a Good Samaritan shot and killed a man after the man allegedly attacked a mom with her baby in the parking lot of the Walmart on Maurer Road near Shawnee Mission Parkway.
Police used Walmart surveillance video to establish a timeline of events and just like in Overland Park, the store ranks first on the list for calls to Shawnee PD three years in a row.
As of last month, cops have shown up to the Walmart 152 times so far this year.
"When you have an area that draws in a lot of folks from a lot of different areas you're going to have police calls and that's why we're here," Major Dan Tennis, a spokesperson for the Shawnee Police Department said.
Soon after the shooting, Walmart told us they planned to add private security to patrol the supercenter's parking lot.
When we asked about the high number of calls their stores make to police they sent us a statement that reads in part:
"The importance of this issue is recognized at the highest levels of the company and we are investing in people and technology to support our stores," Brian Nick, senior director of Walmart corporate communications wrote.
Even cities like Augusta, Kansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma reported seeing police calls rise. A Joplin Walmart started a “Restorative Justice Program” to combat shoplifting and reduce the high volume of police officers responding to calls at the store.
Despite the fact that there are constant runs to local Walmart stores, like in Shawnee, the police department doesn't believe it interferes with other calls.
"When a business or resident or a citizen or somebody traveling through Shawnee needs help they call the police and we respond. We don't feel like we're at that Walmart an extraordinary amount of time compared to other places," Major Tennis said.
Nick adds Walmart's current focus is to implement on more preventative measures designed to stop the crimes from being attempted at all.
"I'd like to hope that if someone were to pull in there and saw a police officer sitting in the parking lot they'd think twice about committing a crime but unfortunately we don't have the resources to be there all the time or any of the other areas," Officer Guieb said.
Walmart does tell us they have six stores in the Kansas City metro with off-duty police or private security
41 Action News obtained lists of the top 25 addresses officers respond to from police departments in Lee's Summit, Overland Park, Leawood, Shawnee, Olathe and KCPD. Here are the top five commercial locations where police responded to calls in 2015.
Top business and locations for police calls:
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS
Wyandotte County Parks and Recreation, 5033 State Avenue, 2,711
Wyandotte/Leavenworth Area Agency on Aging, 849 North 47th Street, 2,378
Wyandotte County Court House, 710 North 7th Street Trafficway, 2,359
East Interstate 435 Highway/State Line Road, 115
West Interstate 435 Highway/State Line Road,109
Brookdale Town Villas, 4400 West 115th Street,105
Walmart, 395 North K7 Highway, 317
Target, 15345 West 119th Street, 258
Walmart Supercenter,13600 South Alden Street, 250
Walmart, 7701 Frontage Road, 267
Oak Park Shopping Center, 11801 West 95th Street, 335
Overland Park Soccer Complex, 13700 Switzer Road, 175
Walmart Supercenter, 16100 West 65th Street, 277
County Courthouse, 710 North 7th Street Trafficway, 103
Shawnee Mission Parkway and Nieman Road, 98
City Prosecutor’s Office, 223 North Memorial Drive, 2,096
Walmart Supercenter, 4000 South Bolger Drive, 733
SM 291 Highway, East Salisbury Road, 715
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Greyhound Bus Lines, 1101 Troost Avenue, 428
City Union Mission, 1108 East 10th Street, 357
Truman Medical Center, 2301 Holmes Street, 299
Walmart Supercenter, 1000 Northeast Sam Walton Lane, 747
Summit Woods Shopping Center, 1790 NW Chipman Road, 576
Summit Fair Shopping Center, 900 NW Blue Parkway, 442
Andres Gutierrez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org