Walmart adds eyes in the sky, new 'lot cops' in parking lots of Springfield stores

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Shoppers will now see an increase in security at local Walmart Supercenters.

Many of the Springfield stores have long been a high crime area-- because criminals like to prey on any area that draws a large crowd.

Now, Walmart is fighting back even more-- with more security than ever.

Like it or not-- you are being watched.

"I love it, because I know it's needed," said shopper Elva Roberts. "I've been here when I knew that somebody was there observing me getting in and out of my car."

Roberts says loading in her groceries seems like the most vulnerable part, so extra "eyes" is comforting.

"With the drivers driving around, with the security guards in them, and also with these cameras, that will help a lot," she said.

Springfield police are excited, too.

"With any type of surveillance up there, recorded surveillance of any crime taking place always helps us in investigations," said Lt. Culley Wilson with the Springfield Police Department.

Crime call volume was so high at Walmart several Springfield Walmart stores that Springfield police teamed up with the store to make a more focused effort on fighting it.

In 2017, only 1.6-percent of police calls came from Walmart Supercenters. That was down from 2.3 percent of calls the year before.

More eyes in the sky, police say, is like having more boots on the ground.

"In some places we wouldn't have any video at all, now we're having video in some cases even where we can identify suspects at night pretty well-- so it's the advancement in technology that's helping us," Wilson said.

The police chief highlighted two Walmart stores last year, the one on North Kansas Expressway and the one on East Kearney Street-- both experienced a significant decline in theft, 41-percent, after their focused effort.

Walmart would not give details on the specific technology the cameras are capable of, to keep it a secret from possible criminals. They have put the cameras up in just over 100 stores so far.