Walmart is making an unusual move to deter theft by building a mini police station inside one of its stores

Aside from deterring shoplifters, the mini precinct at an Atlanta Walmart will serve as a place for police in the area to recharge batteries and do paperwork.

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An arson-damaged Atlanta Walmart store is slated to include a mini police station when it reopens in 2024.The location was closed in December after shoplifters lit fires to distract from their thieving.Walmart is tapping City of Atlanta funds to keep the store operating amid a rise in retail crime.

Nearly every Walmart location has a few common departments — grocery, pharmacy, housewares — but an Atlanta store is slated to have one that no other has: police.

In a first, plans call for the Walmart in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood to include a substation of the Atlanta Police Department when it reopens in May next year.

The location has been closed for nearly a year after officials say shoplifters set fires in the store to distract from their thieving. Similar incidents occurred at another area Walmart and a Target.

Aside from deterring shoplifters, the mini precinct will serve as a place for police in the area to recharge batteries and do paperwork, per local media reports of a community meeting last week with city officials and company executives.

Walmart did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

“After talking with the Merchants Association on MLK Drive and Clark University and other people in the neighborhood, folks were saying they want to see more police presence,” Mayor Andre Dickens said, according to Rough Draft Atlanta.

The mayor also said Walmart will tap city funds from a recently approved $1.5 million initiative to expand fresh grocery access in low-income communities, the outlet reported.

More than 20 other Walmart locations in the US have shuttered this year so far, typically due to underperformance. The company has not specifically cited retail theft as a reason for store closures, but CEO Doug McMillon has indicated that could change if the numbers don’t turn around.

In January — a month after the arson attacks — Dickens said he and his team “engaged Walmart directly to ensure this store would reopen,” citing the importance of the retailer as a source of affordable fresh food.

Approximately one in four dollars spent at US grocery stores are spent at Walmart, according to retail data service Numerator.

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