Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Philly Cops Targeting Stolen Shopping Carts

By Ralph Cipriano

At 1 a.m. on March 25th, surveillance cameras caught two men pushing a stolen shopping cart on the 2800 block of Ruth Street in Kensington.

The men proceeded to dump the contents of the cart, a rolled-up rug bound with duct tape, in an abandoned lot, and then they walked away. 

Inside the rug, cops found the body of a man who'd been shot to death. The shopping cart, as well as the guys who were pushing it, are still at large.

According to Chief Inspector Michael McCarrick of the Philadelphia Police Department, transporting the corpse of a homicide victim is just one example of how a stolen shopping cart can contribute to neighborhood crime and blight.

That's why for the past two months, McCarrrick's been running a pilot program in the Northeast and East Police Divisions. Every few weeks, a couple of Philly cops have been going out on two-hour tours of duty, accompanied by workers from the city's Community Life Improvement Project [CLIP], on a mission to round up stolen shopping carts.

On five such recent tours, they've rounded up some 250 shopping carts. According to McCarrick, the program has been so well received that it's in the process of going city-wide.

McCarrick says he started the shopping cart round-up after he noticed stray shopping carts all over the city. In Kensington, he says, homeless people use them for storage at their encampments. 

McCarrick's seen shopping carts left in the middle of Roosevelt Boulevard that wound up rolling into traffic. He's seen stolen shopping carts littering sidewalks throughout the city, creating impediments to pedestrians and kids on their way to school.

The chief inspector says he's used to the skepticism that's greeted his campaign, which he says usually boils down to, "Don't you guys have better things to do?" And then there's the abuse that his brainchild has been taking on Twitter.

"Here is what the @PPDCommish is dedicating patrol officers to do. Round up shopping carts," groused StinkyFeat, a frequent Danielle Outlaw critic. "Waste of resources . . . "

"This has to be a joke," chimed in Cheryl Rider. "20 people shot in one day and THIS is what they're worried about? WTF?"

"Oh Thank God, I feel so much safer," added Yella B. "I knew those carts were up to no good."

The skeptics were having a field day on Twitter after last week, when, over a four-day period between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, 54 people were shot in Philadelphia, 15 of whom died.

McCarrick is the leader of the Police Department's Regional Operations Command North. The district includes the open drug market of Kensington, the shooting gallery known as North Philly, as well as the  neighborhoods of Fairhill, Logan, Olney, Frankford, and Mayfair. 

In an interview today, the chief inspector says he's not out to fool anybody. 

"Shootings and murders are our top priorities," he says. But being a cop, he says, is a "multi-faceted" job.

And so while gun violence remains the main concern for Philly cops, McCarrick says, he's also concerned about stolen property and the community's quality of life.

"If it's criminal in nature, yes I do worry about it," he said about stolen shopping carts. "I don't devalue quality of life crimes," he says. And he doesn't deploy cops on shopping cart round-ups "at the expense of shootings and homicides."

A memo on the new program was posted on Twitter, sparking plenty of skepticism and ridicule.

"With the heightened amount of nuisance shopping car abandonment and thefts in Philadelphia, Northwest Patrol Division has taken an initiative to restore back the shopping carts that were once readily available for consumers to use in appropriate stores," says the memo announcing the new "NWPD Shopping Cart Detail."

"Each district will have an opportunity survey areas to find shopping carts and return them to the businesses that happily serve the Northwest Community," the memo says. 

The memo says that officers in the Northwest Division and members of the Community Life Improvement Project [CLIP] will have a two-hour window to "return stolen and abandoned shopping carts." 

Cops are asked to submit an activity sheet that will list "carts collected, carts returned, carts discarded."

They ran the collection once in the Northeast Division and scooped up 45 carts.

The cops are there for security, McCarrick says. It's the CLIP workers who actually collect the carts and return them to area stores. 

If the detail finds a shopping cart from a store that's closed, the CLIP workers see that they'reproperly disposed of.
McCarrick says when the cops and CLIP workers go out to corral shopping carts, it gives them a chance to interact with the homeless population, especially in Kensington.

"It's a chance to engage with them, and get them service," he says. He's also talking to store owners and employees, trying to encourage them to take a more proactive approach to rounding up their own shopping carts, and preventing them from being stolen. 

"Up until this point, it [the stolen shopping carts] was just written off as a loss," McCarrick says. 

As far as McCarrick is concerned, rounding up abandoned shopping carts "kind of falls in line with the broken windows theory of policing." That's the theory that when cops crack down on visible signs of crime and anti-social behavior, such as abandoned shopping carts, they're promoting law and order.

McCarrick says he's aware that some of skeptics who are rolling their eyes over his shopping cart round up include his fellow cops.

So he says the most he can do is ask them to "try something" new, and see if it works. And if it does, he says, it might be worth keeping.


  1. I missed your factual Articles about how Larry Krasner is setting every citizen up to be Victims of Violent Crimes with all his City Rules that literally stop Philly Cops from doing the Job duties they are hired and trained to do by threatening to fire them if they lock Philly Criminals up for commiting Crimes, Violent or not ain't no such thing as a Victimless Crime and it's sad that the Feds are literally doing the Jobs of Philly Cops by locking Philly Criminals up when they hear from Philly Cops that Krasner forbid them to lock up certain people,yup, rumor is that Krasner picks and chooses which Philly Criminals he's willing to target especially if they already have Lawyers from his old Law Firm on Paid Cash Retainer but hey I'm just a Black Philly Mother of 4 School Age children that I have to literally beg God to please not let them get shot and killed by one of Krasner's Invincible Violent Philly Criminals who he forbids Philly Cops from locking up as my children are actually doing the right thing of going back and forth to school since Krasner has also stopped Philly Cops from approaching School Age children about cutting class and not being in school during school hours because according to Krasner it's a waste of Taxpayer Dollars to detain children and have to pay Philly Cops to monitor them at Philly Truancy Centers across the city just because they skipped School without their parents knowing,NEWS FLASH,21 Philly Children lost their lives from being shot and killed during school hours during the 2020 to 2021 Philly School Year

  2. Let's "try something new" by impeaching larry krasner.

  3. So let me get this straight, the city is wasting police resources to round up shopping carts so the junkies can go steal new ones. I must say that it seems like the patients are running the asylum.

  4. Look at how many people don't have cats to go grocery shopping and use shopping carts to buy food and transport the food home. Only thing they don't do is return the carts back to the stores and leave them astray in on the neighborhood. I'm not saying we should buy them their own car but that's the reason shopping carts walk out of the store with their owners.

    1. If only the stores were able to put the groceries in some sort of carrying device, I don't know maybe a bag (gasp). Then those without cars could easily carry their goods home instead of stealing the cart. That seemed to work forever but no longer allowed in the city.

  5. How about two hour police tours ticketing and towing all the illegal vehicles (expired registration, expired inspection, fake inspection stickers which is fraud, major body damage and plates that don't go with the vehicle) parked on our residential streets? Say what you will about former mayor John Street, but he did get illegal and abandoned vehicles off our streets.

  6. Shopping cart detail? This is buffoonery at its highest level.


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