With shopping cart theft ~ above the rise, an enterprising company found a way to integrate proprietary and also commercial technology to store the thef in check.

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For many customers at stores across the country, the standard shopping dare is nothing much more than a receptacle come conveniently host items when shopping. But for retailers, this carts, i m sorry can expense up come $200 each, are an important and expensive to keep (retrieval and also repair of broken carts can price retailers thousands of dollars every year).

To make matters worse, in an effort to remedy the common problem of exit shopping carts top top streets and sidewalks, some cities and also counties have passed ordinances inquiry retailers come contain your carts, regularly imposing fines on those that don’t comply.

All that this have the right to make the lowly shopping cart a an extremely expensive necessity. One systems is accessible from ­Gatekeeper solution of Irvine, Calif. The firm has combined innovative proprietary technology with typically available, off-the-shelf modern technology to develop a system that keeps purchase carts where they belong — either in the keep or in the parking lot, whichever the retailer chooses.

Hold on To her Carts

The system, dubbed CartControl, includes a proprietary CentralTransmitter associated to one antenna that sends out a low-­frequency 8-kilohertz digital signal. The antenna is buried in the ground close to the perimeter of the store; the shopping carts themselves contain radios in the wheels that pick up the radio frequency signal if the dare gets too close come a designated threshold (called a wheel receiver).

If a signal is detected, the wheels automatically lock and can it is in unlocked just by an employee, defines Stephen ­Hannah, Gatekeeper Systems’ vice president of engineering.

The CentralTransmitter is generally located in the store’s warehouse or back-office area. The generates the digitally encoded 8Khz locking signal, i m sorry locks the CartControl wheel ~ above the shopping carts when the wheels cross the buried antenna line.

The transmitter can protect an ext than 5,000 linear feet that perimeter boundary, a distance of almost one mile. The transmitter is also equipped with a general Packet Radio service (GPRS) modem because that mobile data company on 2G and also 3G moving networks. The GPRS modem communicates device status with a security station located at Gatekeeper Systems’ headquarters.

To make sure the system runs continuously, even if the power is out, the transmitters are connected to one ­American power Conversion BK-350 210-watt, 350-volt, six-outlet uninterruptible strength supply (UPS).

“If the device were come go under for any reason — because that example, if one antenna line broke because a landscape worker accidentally reduced it, or AC strength to the building is lost, or indigenous damage because of a lightning strike — it’s necessary that we discover out immediately,” ­Hannah says. “The UPS can keep the whole system to run in the occasion of loss of AC power, however in the case of damages or tampering it is an important we discover out conveniently so we have the right to keep the system running,” that adds.

Back at Headquarters

The monitoring takes location in Gatekeeper Systems’ system monitoring center, collocated v its data center at that headquarters. The data center consists of about a dozen servers running Microsoft ­Windows Server 2008, every housed in two totally enclosed APC cabinets, describes IT Manager Byron Tilman.

Some the the servers home the ­Microsoft SQL 2005–based database, which contains every one of the data the ­Gatekeeper solution collects indigenous its customers and their dare activity. The servers space then donate up by 3 APC ­SmartUPS 3000 collection UPSes.

The data monitoring system connects come the GPRS modems in each store’s transmitter, i beg your pardon monitors the ­CartControl device status in genuine time. If one antenna line is broken, because that example, the GPRS modem sends out a signal, comparable to a cell phone signal, to the data facility in Irvine, note the time, date and also cause the the alert.

When the perimeter device is compromised, CartControl’s SystemMonitor automatically generates an alert, which is sent out via basic Mail transfer Protocol to the ­Microsoft Exchange Server come both the customers and also field technicians. The alerts have the right to be sent out to a mobile or e-mail account. Many of Gatekeeper Systems’ field technicians have actually e-mail collection up on their RIM BlackBerry smartphones for just this purpose.

The combination of beneficial intellectual property, proprietary modern technology and commercial an innovation has been crucial to the product’s success, ­Hannah says. In enhancement to keeping expenses in line, the mix of these innovations has permitted the product come become much more reliable, simpler to maintain and also easier to upgrade, he adds.

“We use off-the-shelf modern technology wherever it renders sense, and it’s proven to be a great way to increase system reliability and our responsiveness,” Hannah says. “We will continue to incorporate these technologies in the most efficient ways because that our customers over time.”


Although most human being don’t offer it lot thought, shopping dare theft is a huge headache for retailers. The Food Marketing academy reports that nearly 2 million to buy carts are stolen every year, translating right into a per-store loss of $8,000 come $10,000 every year — and that’s just in the food industry. Retailers calculation that the yearly cost that shopping dare theft is practically $800 million worldwide.

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The problem is so extensive that cities, counties and private organizations have actually been working on ways to derail it. Take, because that example, the Facebook web page entitled “Stop Shopping dare Theft in Mira Mesa,” which motivated residents the the California ar to use their smartphones to take and also upload photos of exit carts. A setup put forward by the Los Angeles City Council would certainly have forced supermarkets to use cart containment systems. Although the legislation didn’t pass, the city did conference $6,880 precious of exit carts in a six-month period, showcasing the border of the problem.