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Shopping-cart theft

The shopping-cart theft problem within the City of Rutland downtown area came one step closer to a resolution last week. At a recent meeting, members of the Rutland City Charter and Ordinance Committee formally notified the corporate offices of Grand Union, Price Chopper and Wal-Mart that they provide the city with a document stating that they will press charges on individuals stealing their carts.

The city has been battling the theft of shopping carts for years; the problem may be drawing to a conclusion.

At the last board of alderman meeting, Alderman Tom DePoy proposed an ordinance to fine the perpetrators a $50 fine for removing carts from the owners' properties. The motion failed by one vote prompting it to be sent to committee.

Price Chopper officials have been leading the charge with preventative measures; others are now considering them, too.

Kevin Moore, general manager of Price Chopper, said the supermarket has 337 carts with wheels that will lock when pushed away from their property. They have been given permission, and funding, to equip the remaining 50 carts be fitted with the preventative devices.

A group of Rutland citizens responded to a recent survey regarding abandoned carts; results found that only one in 86 carts retrieved had a wheel lock. The survey provides evidence that Price Chopper's theft-prevention efforts are working. Tina Kremple, general manager of Wal-mart, said her employer will be pursuing this approach as well-however, she is unsure when the effort will take place.

Blanche Cart of the www.cartlandvt.com website was at the recent committee meeting. The Cartland website highlights the problem showing littered carts all over the Rutland City area; the site draws attention to the issue with a dash humor. While the website is written in humor, the corporate offices of Price Chopper and Wal-mart don't see their stolen property as a laughing matter. Local business officials contacted were not happy about the publicity over this issue.

Charter and Ordinance Committee Chairman David Dress gave the local stores a two-week "ultimatum" to respond with written statements that will help Rutland City Police prosecute the shopping cart offenders. Another committee meeting will be scheduled soon to fully resolve the problem.

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