Shane Harms
A recent shoplifting incident has spurred more community concern for security at Walgreens in Ballard.

Another incident prompts more concern for security at Walgreens

Friends of employees at the Ballard Walgreens are voicing concern for their friends’ safety after yet another threatening shoplifting incident on August 30.

According to Detective Patrick Michaud of Seattle Police, a male suspect and a woman were asked to leave the store after being observed shoplifting. They left but the male returned, charged an employee and knocked over a wine rack. The employee was not injured. Later police arrested the man after someone reported a male matching his description was arguing with a woman in a van some blocks away. He was booked for investigation of burglary at King County Jail.

Two weeks ago the Ballard News-Tribune reported that a local woman, Janet Calkins, urged Walgreens to assign a security guard at the store. She was especially adamant about this after last July when there was an armed robbery at the store. A suspect armed with a baseball bat threatened employees and then made off with prescription narcotics. The BNT covered the incident, and Walgreens would not reveal details about their security policy or whether they intend to implement a security officer.

After the most recent incident an anonymous concerned citizen and friend of an employee called BNT and said employees do not feel safe at the store.

“It is a concern to everyone in the community when there is a location that is attracting a high volume of crime -- people regularly visiting the store or just people walking by and especially customers and all the people who work there. I don't know what the solution, but if it means stepping up and implementing a guard then that’s what they should do,” said the concern citizen who asked to remain anonymous.

No Walgreens employees were willing to speak with the BNT about security at the store or their experiences.

So is Walgreens considering hiring in-store security personnel after more concern from citizens? The Ballard News-Tribune asked Walgreens if the recent incident would affect their decision.

“I’m responding to your message from Wednesday. We cannot disclose specific loss prevention and security measures beyond those we shared with you on Aug. 16, and some of your questions repeat those you asked earlier in August. For specific information about any criminal activity that may be under investigation, we must refer you to local police authorities. We have a great relationship with Seattle Police and rely on them to determine what shared information will aid or hinder their work. The safety of customers and our employees is critically important and we work together with our teams daily to hear concerns and work together on solutions,” wrote James Graham, media handler for Walgreens.

Since Walgreens would not reveal details on hiring security personnel, the BNT looked to their website to see who they are hiring. Under Career Opportunities there are in-store opportunities for Shift Lead, Beauty Advisor, Beauty Consultant, and other positions, but there is nothing resembling a security role as of September 2. However, within their Distribution Department there is ample opportunity (17 in the U.S.) for what Walgreens calls an Asset Protection Officer. That role is described as this:

“An Asset Protection Officer in one of our distribution centers, you will help ensure the safety and security of our assets within the facility, on our property and in the supply chain. This includes controlling and monitoring pedestrian and vehicle traffic onto the property and into the facility. Additionally, APOs perform daily security and safety patrols to identify any adverse actions that may cause a safety concern or contribute to profit loss.”

The BNT asked Graham why Walgreens hires APOs and not in-store security personnel, to which he would not comment.

Meanwhile, the BNT has filed another public records request for all incidents at the Walgreens store SPD has been called to this year. The SPD has responded to the request, and the BNT will be reporting those findings next week.

Look to the Ballard News-Tribune for future reports on this issue.

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