TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - They are all over town and they are seen as a blight in the community. Stolen shopping carts are left at bus stops, along streets, and in washes but over the past two years Tucson has been proactive in removing them.
In 2014, the city started a program to sweep through parts of town known to have large numbers of abandoned carts. In 2014, they collected close to 1,100 abandoned carts. That number increased by 300 in 2015, they collected 1,470 last year. Neighborhood complaints about abandoned carts also decreased by about 10 percent per month.
Councilman Steve Kozachik says they are making progress, but the problem is not solved yet.
According to a map provided by Environmental Services, parts of midtown and near Midvale Park have the most reports of complaints.
"We had about 1,400 carts in our neighborhood each year. That is about 40 each day," said Joseph Miller, president of the Midvale Park Neighborhood Association.
Midvale Park helped get the city program off the ground two years ago. Before that, Tucson relied on complaints by residents to remove abandoned carts.
Miller added, keeping abandoned carts out of neighborhoods improves safety.
"The writing is on the wall so to speak," says Miller. "If you see 20 shopping carts in a neighborhood, you can kind of figure the police aren't taking care of the neighborhood as much as they are in places you don't see the shopping carts."
Basically, he says when criminals see abandoned carts, it could lead to more crime nearby. Miller says now visitors to Midvale Park make less reference to abandoned carts since they began actively removing them.
In addition to helping with neighborhood blight, Kozachik says businesses have a stake in this as well. It costs significantly more to buy new shopping carts than to retrieve their abandoned ones from an impound like they do now. Carts in the impound cost about $30 to take out, new ones can cost upward of $300 dollars according to Kozachik.
"We're hearing some good things from the businesses because they're not having to go out and buy new ones all the time," said the councilman.
Residents are still encouraged to report carts left around town. They can contact Environmental Services (520-791-3171) or report using the MyWaste app which you can download in the app store.