A carjacking, a teen vandalism spree, and a man threatening employees with a gun. Those are all crimes reported inside Macon Wal-Marts or their parking lots in the last couple of years.
The problems prompted 13WMAZ to take a deeper look at how much time Bibb County deputies devote to the retailer's three Macon properties.
13WMAZ's Paula Rotondo found serious crimes like those are the minority, but the high volume of police calls to Macon Wal-Marts can take up a big chunk of some officers' time.
MAN ROBBED AT GUNPOINT AT ZEBULON WAL-MART
The night of Jan. 19 still haunts Allen Vorhees.
He lives not far from the Zebulon Road Wal-Mart, and went into the store to purchase a few items after work.
After leaving the store, he says he was approached by two men.
"They kept saying, 'Get in the car, give me your money, give me your phone,'" Vorhees said.
He says the men shoved him onto another car, demanded his cash, and tried to force him into his own car. When Vorhees refused, they threatened to shoot.
"I said, 'Here's the car if you want the car, but I'm not getting in the car.'"
The two men sped off with his car, and Vorhees ran into the store to call 911.
Vorhees says he does not blame Wal-Mart, but says he's still shaken up by what happened.
"I haven't been back since," he says, but says he's found it in his heart to forgive. "These two young men, I do forgive them. I hope they can straighten their lives up."
His car was returned that night, but the sheriff's office has yet to make an arrest in the case.
REQUEST REVEALS THOUSANDS OF 911 CALLS TO WAL-MART
Five years of emergency records show Vorhees' 911 call as one in a sea of thousands from Macon's three Wal-Marts.
The Wal-Marts are located on Zebulon Road in northwest Macon, Harrison Road in west Macon, and Gray Highway in East Macon.
Most of the 5,000-plus calls from the three stores since 2010 were not potential felonies or violent crimes.
The Zebulon Road store falls into Bibb County Deputy Malcolm Bryant's patrol area.
Asked how many calls he's personally responded to from that store, Bryant said, "If I had to average within the past three years, maybe about 30 to 40 times."
Most were for minor crimes, but they still consume police resources.
In 2015, records show overall Bibb deputies spent an estimated 9 1/2 work weeks just filling out shoplifting reports from the three Wal-Marts.
We calculated that number by taking the average time deputies say it takes to fill out an incident report, about 45 minutes, and multiplied it by 504, the number of shoplifting reports last year from the three Wal-Marts.
For comparison, we pulled the numbers for nearby retailers: two Krogers, a Target, and the Macon Mall.
We found that deputies responded to more than five times as many calls at the Wal-Marts than the four other sites combined.
|Click the icons on the map to show the number of calls or police reports for various stores. Zoom in and out with the + and - buttons to get a closer look at the location.|
|911 calls for service||Police reports for shoplifting|
One of those shoplifting cases occurred on Jan. 4, 2016, at the Harrison Road store. A man suspected of stealing video games allegedly pulled out a gun on Wal-Mart's loss prevention employees.
Bryant says watchful teams like those help drive the high volume of Wal-Mart calls.
He says, "They already have everything set up, from the video surveillance all the way down to the suspect information if the suspect is not still on scene."
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis says his deputies get "called out on everything" at Macon's Wal-Marts.
Whether it's a stolen piece of fruit or a television, Davis says he doesn't consider it a waste of resources, and points out big-box retailers like Wal-Mart attract everyone.
He says, "Where you have large numbers of people going to spend money to buy goods, that's sometimes a draw for criminals to prey on."
13WMAZ reached out to Wal-Mart to ask about their crime policies at those three stores and what they're doing to prevent it.
They sent back a general statement that did not talk specifically about Macon's stores.
It reads in part, "We take shoplifting in our stores seriously and have a variety of detection and deterrent measures in place. Such measures may include trained personnel, video surveillance, and enhanced lighting to name a few examples."
13WMAZ followed up with Wal-Mart three more times after receiving their statement, requesting the security measures they take at the three locations, but never heard back.
Follow 13WMAZ's Paula Rotondo at @Paula_Rotondo