From the Motley Fool:
Wal-Mart has taken the law into its own hands. No, the company has not started its own jail, and any employee who wears a cape and fights crime must still do so on their own time. Instead, the retail chain has taken a new approach to fighting shoplifting that requires less involvement from the police. The retailer has been using a “restorative justice” program in 1,500 of its stores, according to The Gainesville Sun. That’s a program where people deemed low-risk, first-time offenders are given the choice of paying to take an anti-shoplifting course rather than facing arrest and prosecution.
The effort is in its early days, but the results have been good so far. The company has seen a 35% reduction in calls to law enforcement nationwide since restorative justice programs were first implemented, Wal-Mart spokesman Ragan Dickens told The Sun in an email.
“No retailer is immune to the challenge of crime. We recognize the importance of this issue at the highest levels of the company, and we are investing in people and technology to support our stores,” he wrote, noting that police are not being cut out of the loop.
Alleged shoplifters who get the chance to participate in the course must pay a fee to take it. The company does not disclose what it charges, but the paper noted that “the rate of repeat theft is low among those who have gone through the program.” If that proves to be true over a national rollout for the long run, then the company could save some serious money.