Shopping cart theft on the rise in southern Arizona

Shopping cart thefts on the rise in Arizona
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 6:28 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Shopping carts are disappearing from stores big and small all across the nation, including in Arizona.

With shopping carts disappearing, it’s causing a lot of frustration for both retailers and shoppers.

According to officials, shopping carts are being stolen in large numbers in southern Arizona and it’s putting retailers in a bind having to repair and replace so many of the carts.

“They’re having a difficult time getting the new ones from outside the country. The price has almost doubled from what they were getting from the last couple of years,” Mark Miller, president of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance, said. He added that this problem has increased along with our homeless population.

He said the unsheltered “don’t really have a way to transport the stuff that’s important to them.” In order to haul their belongings from Point A to Point B, they use a shopping cart.

“A lot of people don’t have two cars. Or they don’t have any cars. They use the carts that they used to purchase groceries to get them back to their apartment or home. As they push the cart back and unload it. It sits by your streets and by your bus stops.”

Local organizations do put in the effort to try and pick up these carts when they are left behind. This includes both the Tucson Police Department and the city of Tucson. Once those carts are picked up, they are taken back to the store where they are cleaned and refurbished.

Pat Tapia, deputy director of Tucson’s Environmental Services, said the city is taking ownership of this issue and has new contracts with crews to help gather these carts.

“If they see carts, they are going to go ahead and collect them,” he said. “We see them around the bus areas, and bus stops seem to be one of the areas that they tend to congregate a lot of. So we are going to try and focus in on those and see if can collect them in a timely manner.”

Miller and Tapia both said neither organization will approach and take away a cart from someone currently using it but will go and collect it once it’s been left.

If you see a shopping cart you can report it 1-800-THE-CART.

It’s best to do it as soon as you see it because shopping carts can be moved by someone else before the city or police can collect them.