HONOLULU(KHON2) — Ever went to do your grocery shopping and there weren’t any carts? You’re not alone. Shopping cart theft is a huge problem.
Kaneohe resident, Joshua Baldovi dedicates his time to returning lost carts and explains why he thinks stolen carts may be costing shoppers more money.
Baldovi, is the cart guy in Kaneohe. For more than a year he’s made it his mission to return shopping carts to their rightful place.
To date, he’s returned more than 500 carts. He said it all started along Alaloa street, behind Windward Mall, in August 2021.
“I was walking and there was this row of shopping carts, like two lanes and it’s like this cannot be like this,” Baldovi explained. “There was two rows, so maybe about 25, 26 carts.”
He said there was barely room to pass on the sidewalk.
“It had to do with the safety of our community,” he explained. “Every time I see a cart when I’m driving, I realize I have to get it the next day.”
He said abandoned carts are an eye sore and he thinks they’re probably costing all of us money.
“When they’re taken the store loses money and they have to buy more, but in order to do that they have to raise the prices on their goods.”
He may be right.
Online, a shopping cart sells for about $150 to $250 per cart. While that may not seem like much, it adds up.
According to the Food Marketing Institute about 2 million carts are stolen every year, costing each store roughly $10,000 annually.
A spokesperson for Foodland said they do not pass those losses on to customers.
It is illegal to remove a shopping cart from the store premises.
City Council member Esther Kia’aina said apart from better enforcement, she wants to work with the state and businesses to see what can be done to solve the problem.
But she also has “concerns of new city regulations for shopping carts impacting our business community as such action will only increase costs that will inevitably be passed on to the consumer.”
Most stores are already doing what they can to prevent cart theft.
In a statement Foodland said: “At Foodland, we encourage our employees to do carryout service and continually retrieve carts from our lots so we have carts available for customers when they shop with us and can prevent straying carts. We have a shopping cart collection team that works 7 days a week to retrieve Foodland carts in neighborhoods across the island. We ask for the community’s help to call our Shopping Cart Hotline at (808) 735-7246 if a Foodland cart is seen outside of our parking lots, and leave a message with the cart location, date and time so our crew members can pick it up.”
They, and many other stores, also have cart locking systems to stop carts from going past certain boundaries. But not every store has those.
One simple way customers can help is by returning their cart to the designated car return area instead of leaving it at a random spot in the parking lot.
While it’s not necessary for everyone to go as far as Baldovi, volunteering hours on end to cart retrieval, it people stop taking them it will save everyone money and the stress of showing up to the store and not having a cart to do your shopping.