Locking carts to prevent thefts at Fred Meyer

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HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. (KOIN) — Local Fred Meyer stores are rolling out a new device to hopefully keep shoplifters from leaving with merchandise. 

At the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer, the grocery carts now have locking devices on the wheels. 

The locking carts have some bugs to fix. Some customers still had their carts lock up after paying, but Fred Meyer has a quick-release device to get shoppers on their way, April 3, 2018. (KOIN)

The system is designed to prevent shoplifters from loading up a cart and then heading out the doors without paying. 

How it works is customers go through a checkout lane where there’s a deactivator for the locking device — including at self checkout. After paying, it’ll deactivate the carts from locking, so customers can easily leave the store, according to Tabitha Shelton, the assistant manager at Fred Meyer.

“It does help prevent loss in our stores, definitely,” Shelton said. “We would have certain incidents where things go out the door, so now we can be more aware of it and it sets off a camera, so our loss prevention can look at it and determine why it did go off.”

The locking devices also help alleviate the store security’s job as it’s tough for them to detain someone inside the store suspected of shoplifting when the thief could say they were planning to pay.

There are some technical bugs they’re working out with the carts. Some people paid, but their carts still locked as they tried to leave. However, store security does have a quick-release device to help them get on their way.

“It does need to be right in front of the sensor for about 30 seconds — normally the time it takes to unload a shopping cart,” Shelton said.

The carts have signs on them explaining how the locking devices work — and customers seem to like it.

“I support that idea. I think you should be able to protect your business,” customer Tom Fiora said.

Fred Meyer said it has 7 stores in the Portland area with locking devices on the carts and more on the way.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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