How does Walmart's latest anti-theft program work?

Walmart is taking a different approach to shoplifters. 

The world's biggest retailer is using the Restorative Justice Program to help reduce theft and police calls in their stores. 

Walmart is often a hotspot for crime, according to an August Bloomberg report.

It's not only petty crimes that plague Walmart stores all across the country, more than 200 violent crimes- including murders, attempted kidnappings and shootings- have happened in the nation's 4,500 Walmart stores this year, according to the report. 

While the Restorative Justice Program aims to cut down on shoplifting specifically, less petty crime often means less violent crime.

Restorative justice by definition, is a system of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community.

Walmart aims to do just that.

"The program offers first time low risk offenders a second chance in order to make things right by participating in an educational course in lieu of prosecution." said Delia Garcia, Director of Communications at Walmart.

The program launched in 2014 and is currently in effect in about a third of all Walmart stores, including in the Sacramento market, according to Garcia.

The eight-hour online course can prevent a first-time offender from having a criminal record while helping them understand why they committed the crime, who they harmed and how they could fix it.

But the optional program isn't free.

Walmart uses two different third-party vendors to carry out the program, according to Garcia.

The Corrective Education Company (CEC) and Turning Point Justice, which partners with the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP), set the costs for their programs.

However, this has raised questions on whether or not Walmart should take the law into their own hands, especially since CEC has since been sued for false imprisonment and overcharging fees.

But Walmart has seen some changes since the program rolled out.

"Nationally, we’ve seen about a 35 percent decrease in calls for service to our stores as a result of the program," Garcia said.

It's important to make note, a decrease in police calls doesn't necessarily mean a decrease in shoplifting. It just means less calls were made to the police.

This does allow more police to be available to take other calls and gives cops a break from Walmart issues.

The Restorative Justice Program is part of a 'larger security strategy' according to Garcia.

Walmart is also using more employees to check receipts and be present at the door. The company is also hiring 'customer hosts' to oversee self-checkout areas and is using more associates for the floor.

In addition, the retailer implemented a new return program to detect return fraud and has invested in technology to help prevent shoplifting at stores.

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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