SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The areas surrounding Springfield Walmart stores have been known as high crime spots. Walmart believes some extra eyes in the parking lot is changing that.
You may have noticed mobile camera towers in the parking lots of Walmart, including the West Sunshine location in Springfield. There are also similar devices attached to the sides of the building around the store in three different areas. This store has had them since August. And Walmart put the lot cop cameras in 453 stores nationwide from August to October. Since they have gone in, Walmart has seen a 19% drop in violent crime in the parking lots of those stores.
The lot cops are solar powered and mobile, but you have to have the key to be able to move them. There are three cameras, two can turn 360 degrees and zoom in, while the other one is recording 360 degrees at all times. It also has red and blue strobe lights to mimic police lights. There's a speaker too, so store personnel can relay a message through the lot cop, such as to warn customers about a tornado warning. When they see something happening, staff can call security or police to respond, but sometimes they don't even have to.
The cameras are sometimes enough to stop a criminal in their tracks.
"That's exactly what they do," said Chris Henry, Walmart Asset Protection Manager. "They come and they walk underneath it. Well, it was actually over there, and they walked underneath it and they looked up, and they're like, oh crap. So they just dropped their stuff and leave."
Besides this location on West Sunshine, the Walmart Supercenters on North Kansas and on East Kearney also have the lot cops. Walmart tells me they are constantly reviewing the locations.