Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Underground wires protect rolling stock


Grocery carts: Scofflaws take them

By Jennifer Edwards
Enquirer staff writer

MOUNT WASHINGTON - Filching a grocery cart won't be so easy anymore in this Cincinnati neighborhood.

This summer, Kroger will increase its number of stores with a special security device to keep the carts, which cost about $100 each, from being wheeled away, often never to return.

An estimated 1 million grocery carts are stolen or come up missing annually nationwide, according to industry experts.

BUY YOUR OWN GROCERY CART
cart
• Shoppers can purchase two-wheel versions (not shown) of grocery carts, Kroger spokesman Art Wulfeck said. They are available at area stores and cost $18.99.
The Mount Washington store on Beechmont Avenue will be the latest to get underground wires in the parking lot boundaries that lock a wheel on the cart when it leaves the perimeter.

The device will go in during the next four to six weeks, company spokesman Art Wulfeck said.

"Quite frankly, most people are taking a cart because it's the easiest way to get their groceries from the store to their home, but the return of the cart doesn't always happen," Wulfeck said.

Stolen carts are often abandoned in streets.

"They are every place and it's been that way for years," said Mary Anne Berry, 60, of Mount Washington.

Over the past four years, Kroger installed the system in its stores in Roselawn, Walnut Hills, Westwood, Over-the-Rhine and at Fairfield's Village Green store.

"We replace about 10 percent of our carts each year. Some of it is due to loss. Some of it is due to they are worn out and need to be replaced. We don't separate the two," Wulfeck said.

The security device isn't foolproof.

Anyone determined to swipe a cart can just pick the cart up and haul it over the boundary.

Ovetta Leary of Walnut Hills isn't so sure they are effective.

In fact, she didn't even know the system was in place at the East McMillan Avenue Kroger in her neighborhood. She said she constantly sees children swiping and playing in them.

"They may want to check and see if they work here," she said.

Some Bigg's supermarkets in Greater Cincinnati try to keep cart thefts down by charging customers a quarter to use a cart, which is refunded upon return.

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E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com




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