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Stop & Shop tries to curb late-night joyriding down Southie sidewalks

Sign on a shopping carriage that warns the wheels will lock up if taken past the parking lot

Eileen Murphy reports the South Boston Stop & Shop has equipped its carriages with a system that supposedly keeps them from being driven onto the sidewalk, so no more "late night joyriding or carting tanked pals home."

JLW, for one, is disappointed:

That’s unfortunate! Emerson street shopping cart racing is my favorite midnight entertainment

Ed. note: The Hyde Park Shaw's has had something like this for years. We've never been tempted to test its efficacy, though.



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Market Basket has these and it still doesn't stop them.

They work on a magnetic system. You drive over the special painted surface and the wheels lock.

But if you lift it over or bypass the painted surface, it'll stay free.

I still see more abandoned carts around my hood, so it doesnt work.

Voting closed 10

I believe these systems work on the same principle as the invisible fence for dogs -- a buried wire emits a radio signal, and if the receiver gets close enough for the signal strength to reach a certain threshold, it activates. Lifting the cart up a foot or two shouldn't work, since the activation zone should be of a pretty decent width. But perhaps the wire has been damaged and is not emitting as strong a signal as it is intended to. At the Star Market in Porter Square, I think I've noticed where the pavement has been cut for the wire to be laid in, and along Elm St there's an exposed wire in a plastic tube. It would be easy for that to be partially damaged.

Shielding around the wheel might allow bypass. Or perhaps not. I wonder if it uses the frame of the cart as an antenna?

(I recall that at least one person claims to have recorded the lock and unlock signals and broadcast them at high gain on an antenna, playing a pretty rude game of red-light-green-light with all carts in range. I can't condone this, but it's quite the mental image. I also am not sure I believe it, since the cart I illicitly unlocked for fun required a mechanical action simultaneous with the unlock radio signal.)

Voting closed 15

Put pneumatic tires on the carts and use spike strips.

Voting closed 2

They should have these everywhere so that these creatures can’t just fill carts up with no skill effort or reason and walk out with thousands of dollars worth of items without anyone laying a hand on them.
We’re not talking about a hungry person we’re talking all High values items

Voting closed 3

… the unhoused who sometimes use them as mobile storage was also part of the decision.

I wish they had put their efforts towards keeping those carts still in their possession in good repair. Nothing kills a grocery shopping buzz like a wonky wheel.
But maybe they can do both.

Voting closed 6

Grocery carts cost something like $200–250 each, so it could add up. I don't have a strong sense of how many of the joyridden carts were being recovered, how much it cost to recover them, whether there was damage that needed repair, how many were being stolen by the homeless, how many were stolen/abandoned by people who live an awkward number of blocks away and wanted to get a large number of groceries by foot, etc.

I would guess that the total yearly loss was marginally less than the amortized cost of a theft-prevention system and that this recent outcry just tipped the balance over in favor of installing one. But it's pretty hard to guess what the breakdown was.

Voting closed 6

wouldn’t do this in their mother’s neighborhood in Scituate.

Voting closed 12

But the local teens might get bored enough to stockpile them on the beach.

Voting closed 6

I must have missed it: does Bubbles work at the Southie stop and shop now?

Voting closed 9

A homeless human using one to cart his or her life possessions around in isn't on any kind of joy ride whatsoever.

Voting closed 1