Friday, February 20, 2009

Supply and Demand of Supermarket Trolleys

Theft of supermarket trolleys is a highly organised business. The trolleys are supplied by gangs made up of Zimbabwean youth, who utilise hired trucks and vans to transport stolen trolleys from shopping centers to the downtown area where they are sold on the streets.

The trolley pushers are not directly responsible for the theft of trolleys. However, everyone is aware of the pick up points for stolen trolleys in the area. During quiet periods, stolen trolleys are sold for as little as R50, whilst trolleys can sell for as much as R200 during busy periods.

The response from supermarket chain stores has been to setup a special task force for recovering stolen trolleys off the streets. Weekly raids ensure that all the visible trolleys in the area are confiscated. Subsequently, the trolley pushers have devised a system, whereby trolleys are locked to immovable property on the sidewalk. During raids trolleys are also moved off the streets and are parked into the basement spaces of high rise buildings.

Trolley pushers report that it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate with stolen trolleys on the streets, as the police and supermarket chain stores are clamping down on the activity. Most of the interviewed trolley pushers don’t like the hassle associated with pushing stolen supermarket trolleys and are desperate for a viable legal alternative.

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