An Ounce of Prevention – Shopping Carts
Watch any crime show on TV or read the latest whodunit novel, and you know that information is key to solving the case. To reduce crime in Ukiah we have established a program for businesses called Business Watch.
To help us get started, our Community Service Officer Nancy Sawyer and her team of volunteers have already visited more than 250 Ukiah businesses during the last year. We’ve created an online forum where people can check in to see what other businesses are experiencing—for example, if someone is passing bad checks or counterfeit money. And we are sending out brochures twice a month with prevention tips on how to avoid embezzlement, scams, theft, and other problems.
Business Watch is free and any business can join. Simply contact Nancy Sawyer at (707) 467-5708 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us online at ukiahpolice.com and click on the Business Watch Forum tab.
When business people and police officers communicate on regular basis, officers have a better understanding of how to prevent crime rather than simply react to it; and when a crime does occur, we can reach out and ask for information that allows us to connect the dots—which will lead to quicker arrests.
Another way to prevent crime—one we’ve had great success with—is called Crime Prevention by Environmental Design: working with business owners to create environments that deter crime. For example, by changing landscaping and improving lighting, you can remove places to hide, which discourages transients from loitering and panhandling your customers.
Speaking of cleaning up our environment, we recently started working on removing abandoned shopping carts.
City Council Member Mo Mulheren said that removing abandoned carts is important, because “abandoned carts give a visual impression that we don’t see the value in keeping our community clean.” Keeping our community clean helps keep our community safe. Abandoned carts are a real nuisance and an eyesore. They can be hazardous; they tend to attract litter; and more often than not, they lead to more carts being discarded.
People who “borrow” the carts (remove them from store properties and discard them later) may not realize that removing carts from a store’s parking lot or possessing a cart without the store’s permission is illegal and can lead to penalties.
To help clean up these discarded shopping carts, Nancy Sawyer and our police volunteers are working with city parks and streets crews to find and remove the old carts. If the carts are no longer usable, city crews are salvaging the carts and recycling the metal.
If we can identify that a cart belongs to Big Lots, CVS, Food Maxx, Rite Aid, Safeway, Lucky’s and Raley’s, we can work with the California Shopping Cart Retrieval Corporation to recover the carts. If you see a cart belonging to one of these businesses, report the cart for retrieval by calling 800-252-4613 and pressing 1, or go online and report the cart at www.cartretrieval.net. If you have a iPhone, you can download an app called, “Cart Snap” to report these abandoned carts.
Other retailers in our community are also working to retrieve carts, and you can find a complete directory of businesses with carts – and their contact numbers – at www.ukiahpolice.com under the Services tab.
Our police volunteers and city crews are out looking for abandoned carts and other hazards, but if we miss one please let us know: use the information above, take advantage of the tip feature on our website, or contact Nancy Sawyer, and we will get the cart removed.
Keeping our community clean from graffiti, trash, abandoned cars and shopping carts is important. It makes our community a safer place, it improves our quality of life, and it says, “The little things matter in Ukiah. We care about our community.”
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey – Chief of Police