Shoplifting incidents in the village increased 19 percent last year, but more troubling is that 61 percent of all shoplifting incidents happened at one location: Walmart on Belvedere Road.
Last week, Paul Miles, a captain with the Palm Beach County’s Sheriff’s Office, told the village council in his annual report that there were 264 shoplifting cases in the village in 2012, up from 222 in 2011. Of those 264 incidents last year, 160 occurred at Walmart.
Miles said shoplifting increased 68 percent at the store, adding there were 349 incidents (shoplifting and others) at Walmart last year, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. In 2011, PBSO said there were 278 incidents at Walmart, with 95 of those being shoplifting.
PBSO has asked the store to help reduce the number of shoplifting incidents by hiring a full-time deputy to patrol the area.
“I…asked them to think about it and give it serious consideration,” Miles told the council. “That hasn’t happened yet.”
Kayla Whaling, a Walmart spokeswoman, said the store is constantly reviewing its crime and safety measures. But she didn’t cite any specifics, saying only that the store in the past year has boosted staffing levels for its asset protection team, the group charged with preventing store theft.
“We do take theft very seriously and will continue to do what is best for our customers,” Whaling said.
Miles said the top complaint from village residents, however, isn’t shoplifting, it’s traffic.
Earlier this year, The Palm Beach Post published a story on speeding in La Mancha, with residents concerned that too many cars and trucks were zooming over the 25 mph speed limit. Since that story ran in late January, Miles said PBSO has received calls from other developments, including Bella Terra and Porto Sol about traffic concerns.
“If a resident makes a complaints about speeding, we try to address the issue,” Miles said at the meeting. “We might not perceive it as an issue, but they (residents) do and we’re in the service business.”
Miles said PBSO places speed trailers in the area to determine the severity of the problem.
The village, last year, saw a 9 percent drop in burglaries and a 62 percent decrease in motor vehicle theft. Crime decreased 0.6 percent in 2012 while crime in the village’s neighboring communities increased, Miles said.
For 2013, Miles said PBSO’s goal is to reduce the number of burglaries even further, but admitted that won’t be easy.
“Robberies are tough…and a crime of opportunity,” Miles said. “You never know when the opportunity is going to arise. We can’t have a police officer on every corner.”
But, Miles added, PBSO does “predictive policing” where they look at crime trends to help predict where a potential crime may occur.
“We have some challenges in the village,” Miles said.