Big-box busts

Police say the number of calls to Glenmont Walmart is actually pretty low considering store size and traffic

The Wall-Mart in Glenmont on Route 9W.

The Wall-Mart in Glenmont on Route 9W. Photo by Spotlight Staff.

— Longtime crime watchers in Bethlehem would likely notice one frequent player gracing the police blotter pages: Walmart in Glenmont. To some observers, it would seem the flashing lights of Bethlehem police cars arrive often at the Route 9W store.

In an effort to shed light on exactly how often the Bethlehem Police Department finds itself at 311 Route 9W, The Spotlight has reviewed police records from the years 2010 and 2011. Those records show the police department answered a total of 727 calls at the Walmart Glenmont address. Although that’s about one call every day, police say that’s not the entire picture.

“Altogether, we usually receive 50,000 calls each year,” said Lt. Thomas Heffernan of the Bethlehem Police Department. “Really, like 300 calls each year out of 50,000 I would say is low. The numbers are the facts.”

The number represents all police officer- and public-generated calls for Walmart’s address. Some of the calls are for incidents that may have no relation to the store, such as traffic stops in front of the plaza.

Of the 727 calls over two years, 123 are related to larceny or shoplifting. Heffernan said the majority of calls to the location are from people who locked themselves out of their cars or were related to the need for Emergency Medical Services.

“To my knowledge, we are one of the few police departments that still provide lockout service in the Capital Region,” he said. “Emergency calls obviously take priority over others, but we do it in our down time.”

Between 2010 and 2011, there were 82 calls to police from people who were locked out of their vehicles at Walmart. There were 63 calls for ambulance response to the Route 9W address.

Heffernan said given the number of people who visit the store each week, thefts are relatively rare. The number of recorded larceny calls average about 1.2 calls each week over the two years.

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