A new police initiative in some neighborhoods in Philadelphia has police on the hunt for stolen shopping carts.
Once officers find stolen carts, they’re being asked to keep them as evidence or return them to stores they were taken from.
The Philadelphia police detail started Monday, according to a law enforcement source who expressed concern to NBC10. The source questioned why this is a priority for Philadelphia police amid the ongoing gun violence crisis.
A chief inspector in Philadelphia Police Department's Northeast Division confirmed the program. He said it’s a quality of life issue, adding a community concern led them to launch the new stolen carts initiative.
The carts are taken from stores and left on city streets, often rolling into traffic, blocking bus stop shelters and sidewalks. The chief inspector said residents in his communities complained about the carts. He also said each section of the city is different, with unique issues.
The PPD chief inspector said the department is not taking any resources away from fighting crime.
Shopping cart theft is an $800-million-a-year problem, according to the Food Market Institute in Washington.
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Residents NBC10 spoke to say it seems like a good idea to involve police -- but only if there is nothing else for them to do.
"It's minor. It’s not a big thing. If we could use police for more of the shootings, [that would be] a better system, something better,” said Northeast Philadelphia resident April Paris. “This doesn’t take precedence over the shootings.”
It may still seem unusual to see officers placing carts, not people, into the back of their police vehicles. However, stores' private security guards and cart employees told NBC10 it's fairly common to see police officers bring them back.
Police say the carts thefts can lead to or are used in other crimes, so when officers see them, they are to alert the proper officers or move them if possible.