ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s hard to drive around Albuquerque for five minutes without seeing an abandoned shopping cart, or someone pushing a stolen shopping cart. For the past two months, the city’s solid waste department has been collecting them and there are a lot of them.
Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Target, and Lowes are just some of the big box stores falling victim to ghost carts. “These were literally just stray carts that are left throughout the city,” said Mayor Tim Keller.
About 1,885 carts have been picked up by the solid waste department over the past couple of months. “You can see them at apartment complexes, you can see them at bus stops or you can see them on the middle of a sidewalk and there’s not a Walmart anywhere around here,” said solid waste department director, Matthew Whelan.
With every cart collected, they are hoping to find a solution. “We started this pilot program to collect all the data on where they are coming from, who they are coming from, and how can we get them back to the retailers,” said Whelan.
The city says none of these carts are coming from homeless encampments. That’s an issue all on its own. “This problem is bigger than what we think it is and the residents responsible for moving these carts aren’t just the unsheltered they are your normal, average resident of the city of Albuquerque who is just trying to get their groceries, get on the bus and get back,” said Whelan.
The city believes the businesses need to do more to keep carts from leaving their property. “We’re kinda saying look, we’ve got your carts. We don’t want to see them all over our city,” said Mayor Keller.
They want to work together to bring back old techniques to solve an old problem. “So whether they’re picking them up quicker or whether they have the brake mechanisms that I know some of the places do or the various other tools we’ve used for a long time,” said Mayor Keller.
The city is working with local governments from California learning the methods they use to find more solutions here. The city says this pilot program will continue for the next six months, businesses can contact the city to go pick up their stolen carts.