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Wal-Mart sports new look after shoplifting decline

The Wal-Mart Super Center in Glenmont may have rolled back shoplifting along with its prices when it reduced it hours 18 months ago.

According to records obtained from the Bethlehem Police Department, the number of petit and grand larceny arrests has been cut in half since implementing the new hours. In a six-month period from this year, Bethlehem police have reportedly made 18 such arrests. During the same time period from last year, police arrested 37 individuals for either petit or grand larceny.

That does not necessarily mean town police have cut down on fielding calls from the store entirely. Sgt. Robert Helligrass of the Bethlehem police said his dispatchers are still taking calls since the reduced hours have been implemented.

We get over 5,000 calls over there, he said. "But only a few arrests come out of those calls. We get calls for ambulance services, lock outs and other things like that. If we see suspicious behavior in the parking lot, we'll check it out."

Bethlehem residents have been vocal about the amount of police activity at the super center since it opened in early 2004.

Bethlehem police said most of the shoplifting and larceny issues at the store are handled by the store's own loss-prevention department and that police only patrol the parking lot and surrounding area.

Deputy Chief Timothy Beebe said the town is divided into four zones by his patrol units and that each zone is equally patrolled. He did say that more business dense areas such as Route 9W in Glenmont are watched more closely during the after hours.

"We don't actively patrol the inside of the store; they handle all of that," he said. "We only come inside when we are called to take someone into custody."

Supervisor Jack Cunningham said Wal-Mart has been nothing but cooperative with the since building the Glenmont facility.

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