BAKERSFIELD, CA - Shopping may never be the same again. New technology is helping stores put the brakes on runaway shopping carts. The high-tech devices are literally stopping some shoppers in their tracks.
You see people pushing shopping carts down the sidewalk. Some are left behind in neighborhoods. Replacing carts costs stores big bucks, so some are using a new braking system to stop thieves.
Rebecca Wood shops for groceries at the 99¢ Store on Olive Drive in Oildale. When she finishes at the checkout, she pushes the shopping cart into the parking lot.
"It just dead stopped and it ran into me and jerked me really hard. It shocked me. It hurt me enough that I wanted to talk about it," said Rebecca Wood.
Wood says an automatic braking system on the cart recently hurt her back. She said she wasn't parked far from the store.
"I'm just concerned the way it locks up with no warning and no visible good signs," she explained.
17 News couldn't find any signs in the parking lot. But inside the carts, you will find a warning. It states: Attention Shoppers! Our shopping carts will lock if taken outside the parking lot perimeter.
Shoppers said it's hard to see the perimeter. "Please beware of your shopping cart, because it can hurt you," said Wood.
"They don't know where the line is unless they painted a line that would tell them," explained shopper Wesley Benge.
"It's kind of ridiculous. People need to push their cart," noted shopper Alyssa Alvarado. "I mean what if you're parked over there?"
"This is the first I've ever seen it. It's kind of crazy!" said shopper Kodie Benge.
The technology works by using an underground antenna that sets a perimeter around the store. When you push a cart outside the perimeter, a signal locks one wheel.
According to Gatekeeper Systems, the company that makes the shopping carts, hundreds of thousands of carts are stolen, damaged or destroyed every year. The company says each cart costs about $75 to $200, which translates into millions of dollars a year in lost revenue.
"Thieves will cause all kinds of problems for all of us and now we're having to deal with shopping carts that can hurt us over it," said Wood.
Gatekeeper Systems did not return our calls for comment.