Local News

Raleigh Hopes to Corral Abandoned Shopping Carts

Posted February 9, 2007 6:25 p.m. EST

— Abandoned shopping carts are popping up in neighborhoods across Raleigh, prompting one City Council member to call for a crackdown.

A WRAL News team found carts in side yards, on downtown streets and flipped over near Dumpsters far away from any grocery store.

Councilman Thomas Crowder calls abandoned carts a nuisance, and he has put the issue before a City Council committee, which will begin looking at possible solutions next Tuesday.

"It's becoming a huge problem throughout the city," Crowder said. "It becomes a public nuisance. It's run down these neighborhoods further, and it makes it harder to rejuvenate (them)."

Raleigh resident Robert Brown agrees. He often finds carts from a grocery store up the street on Lake Wheeler Road in his front yard.

"It just looks ridiculous," Brown said. "You don't want anyone to think you're dirty and you live in a dirty neighborhood because that's exactly how it looks with a whole bunch of shopping carts everywhere."

Officials could hold stores or customers responsible for carts taken off store property. They also could require businesses to install a wheel locking system that would kick in when the cart is at the edge of the parking lot.

Developer Craig Ralph installed such a system at a shopping center he owns on Martin Luther King Boulevard after neighbors expressed concern.

"It's a social obligation we feel we have to the community," Ralph said. "We don’t want the presence we have in the neighborhood to be an inconvenience to the neighbors.”

A Food Lion on Western Boulevard also has a locking system for cart wheels, but Tim Shipman, the director of loss prevention for the supermarket chain said it would cost  too much to install it at all Food Lion stores.

The wheel-locking system costs about $20,000.

Durham officials also are debating who should have to pay to corral wayward shopping carts.

More than 1,000 abandoned carts are collected in Durham each year, and officials are looking at the idea of charging stores if city workers have to return carts to the stores. Some council members said they don't want to penalize stores for something they can't control.