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Wegmans pilots new program to prevent basket theft

Wegmans Food Markets installed a security system to prevent basket thefts at its Auburn, Cayuga County store, and it could be added to other locations in the 106-store chain.

Last week, the Rochester-based company activated a Gatekeeper security system at the Auburn store, the Auburn Citizen reported Nov. 17.

If someone tries to take a cart beyond store property, the wheels lockWegmans spokeswoman Deana Percassi explained in an email.

Most of these systems operate via buried cable around the perimeter of a property. When a trolley crosses the cable, a signal is sent to a central transmitter, locking the wheels of the trolley (which employees can unlock to return the trolley to service).

“At this time, Auburn is the only store using this system, but we will continue to evaluate the possibility of rolling it out to other stores,” Percassi said. “There are several reasons we decided to install the system at the Auburn store, including the cost of replacing carts, as well as the cost of locating and returning missing carts to the store.”

She didn’t say how many carts the Auburn Wegmans were losing (although the Citizen history called it an ongoing problem) or dollar amount of losses, but noted that cart theft is an industry-wide problem for US retailers that results in annual costs of approximately $800 million, according to the Food Marketing Institute in Washington DC

Top friendly markets

The storefront of the Tops Friendly Markets store in Rochester.

top supermarkets, which has 160 stores — most in New York state — has used a cart lock system in 24 of its locations for more than 20 years, spokeswoman Kathleen Sautter said in an email.

She declined to say which 24 “for security reasons”, but she said the system had not entirely prevented the cart thefts.

“We have people who will challenge the system by lifting and sliding the carts through the barrier,” she said. “As you can imagine, cart theft is a huge expense for our organization and frustrating for shoppers as well.”

However, she said it would be difficult to put a figure on the annual cost.

Journalist Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send story tips to [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @MarciaGreenwood.