Councilman wants anti-theft locks on all shopping carts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Councilman wants anti-theft locks on all shopping carts

(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

You see them sitting along streets and highways. On public and private property. Abandoned shopping carts are everywhere.

"It's just an eyesore," Ewa resident Kehau Distajo said.

City Councilman Trevor Ozawa wants to address the issue, riding the roads of wayward carts by holding retailers more accountable. Ozawa is proposing that retailers be required to install electronic wheel locks installed on every shopping cart. He also wants carts to display a store's name, address and phone number.

Merchants vigorously oppose Ozawa's measure, Bill 33. 

"They don't believe that they should be victimized and penalized because they are the victims of property theft," said Lauren Zirbel, executive director at Hawaii Food Industry Association of Hawaii.

Zirbel said the wheel locks don't guarantee a cart won't be stolen. She estimates locks and operating systems cost about $200 per cart. Some stores have 200 carts.

"We really feel it's an unnecessary cost that will be passed on the price of food, and we don't think that that's acceptable," she said.

Three years ago, state Rep. Tom Brower came under fire for his unorthodox method of clearing parks of abandoned carts: Smashing their tires with a sledgehammer.

Ozawa declined Hawaii News Now's offer to explain and defend his bill, but a staffer said it's not meant to target homeless people. Ozawa wants to use it to clean up the streets, the staffer said.

Margarita Emilyon, of Whitmore Village, supports the measure. 

"We wouldn't have of these shopping carts all over the place," she said.

But Ewa resident Kehau Distajo was more skeptical.

"I don't think a local supermarket, maybe a chain of two stores who have shopping carts, could afford that," Distajo said.

Removing a shopping cart is second-degree theft. Under the bill, merchants who failed to comply could be penalized up to $2,000 a day.

Zirbel said merchants do make efforts to retrieve their abandoned carts. "Every single retailer I have talked to employs somebody to go around with a wagon or a truck to pick up the wayward carts as they are called in," she said.

Also, police officers do alert retailers to their abandoned shopping carts. An HPD spokeswoman said sometimes stores don't want them back because the carts are dirty and damaged.

The bill is set to be discussed at the City Council on Wednesday.

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