Stolen grocery carts equal stolen dollars for Louisville stores - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Stolen grocery carts equal stolen dollars for Louisville stores

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Hundreds of stolen grocery carts are ending up in scrap yards around Louisville. It's an expensive problem that you end up paying for on your grocery bill.

Grocery carts, some in good condition, are tossed out like trash and found in a huge pile at Derby City Recycling.

Employees at the Taylor Boulevard Pic-Pac say their store has had 200 carts stolen since January and is down to a couple dozen now, forcing them to lock up what they have left.

Local stores say the problem is getting worse as more people sell these as scrap for cash.

"Did we think we were doing anything wrong? Absolutely not," said Steve Robey, the Manager of Derby City Recycling.

Abandoned carts are found all over Louisville. Some are on streets, while others are used to carry scrap metal and belongings. WDRB talked to one would-be scrap metal salesman, Norman Brooks, who was pushing a cart at the time.

"No, the cart is mine. It's my truck. That's my truck, my walking truck," he said.

But stores say carts cost $100 each to replace. Kroger's Outer Loop location loses 100 a year.

"Across the city of Louisville, we spend no less than a quarter of a million dollars every year replacing lost or stolen carts," explained Kroger Spokesmen Tim McGurk. "It's just an unnecessary expense and it makes it difficult for us to keep prices low for our customers."

Back at Derby City Recycling, that huge pile of shopping carts was mostly gone a day after police showed up on a complaint of stolen ones.

When WDRB asked Robey about his company allegedly purchasing stolen carts, he responded, "We was buying some carts. As you can see our sign on the window now. We was buying them from maintenance companies that had them."

Robey says his fiancee purchased this company a couple of months ago and they both run it. He says he would pay scrappers about $40 for nine carts.

"You know, we bought the place, they was taking them, and we just followed suit," he explained. "We had no idea that we were doing anything wrong."

Now, DCR has a sign saying they will no longer buy carts, but you'll still find some scattered on the property.

Robey said an employee from New Directions Housing Corporation is a regular customer, using a company truck to bring in carts for cash. That's why he thought it was okay to buy them.

New Directions CEO Joe Gliessner says that came as a total shock, and the employee who sold the carts was fired.

"[The employee] was not given permission by anyone in management here," Gliessner said. "It's just him using his time and our vehicle doing something illegal."

ValuMarket's Highlands location has had so many carts stolen in the past, it installed a wireless fence, which works by locking the wheels of the cart when they pass the perimeter set up by the grocery store.

"We were replacing roughly 200 carts every year," explained John Bizzell, the Store Manager at the Highlands ValuMarket. "We couldn't even buy new carts because they were so expensive."

Kroger has a similar system at some stores. Employees use a remote to unlock the wheels, but it's still not stopping thieves.

Kroger and other retailers even hire companies to retrieve carts left on streets because that's still cheaper than replacing carts.

"You have to believe the recycles know the cart was stolen -- taken illegally," said McGurk.

"We're sorry, but they won't have to worry about any more coming here," said Robey. "We will not buy another grocery cart from nobody. We don't care the circumstances."

Stores are notifying police about the thefts, but no arrests have been made. At PicPac, as soon as carts are left in the parking lot, employees round them up, trying to keep the few they have.

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