According to a new study, Walmart's vast expansion in the 1990s correlates directly with a decline in crime reduction. In other words, more Walmarts = more criming. It's not that simply gazing upon that fucking Rollback Smiley causes people to go out and STAB EVERYTHING—it's more that Walmart tends to open stores in underserved, lower-income communities. (And, maybe, that replacing all the stores with one store and trapping human beings in a life of bleak, poverty-wage toil in endless, hopeless exurbs isn't actually the healthiest thing for said communities? But IDK, I'm not a happy-ologist.)

Via HuffPo:

"The crime decline was stunted in counties where Walmart expanded in the 1990s," Wolfe said in a press release issued last week. "If the corporation built a new store, there were 17 additional property crimes and 2 additional violent crimes for every 10,000 persons in a county."

The study looked at annual crime rates in 3,109 counties between 1991 and 2009. Wolfe was especially focused on the 1990s, when crime rates plummeted nationwide and Walmart experienced dynamic growth. The study found that the crime reduction was slowed in communities where Walmart expanded, a trend that continued in the 2000s.

..."Counties with more social capital — citizens able and willing to speak up about the best interests of the community — tend to have lower crime rates," Pyrooz said in the release. "Counties with more crime may have less social capital and, therefore, less ability to prevent Walmart from building."

And lololoololool, Walmart is pissed. But don't worry—their PR wizards cooked up an IRON-CLAD EXCUSE.

Gee also said that any crime increase shown could have to do with the company's vigilance in rooting out shoplifting.

"Our asset protection associates do a phenomenal job in identifying those who try to steal from us, so often times a higher number of shoplifting incidents is just an example of how well they are doing their job," Gee said. "It doesn't mean the crime wasn't taking place before. It just means more shoplifters are being caught."

GOOD SAVE, WALMART.