Coles’ latest move to stop thieves in their tracks using trolley locks

Coles trolleys have received a sublte update.

Coles trolleys have received a sublte update. Photo: AAP

Coles is taking its trolleys high-tech as part of the latest roadblock to stop sticky-fingered shoppers.

A customer at a Melbourne Coles store posted their confusion over the development on social media, after their trolley’s front wheels locked and an alarm buzzed when they tried to leave the store with nothing in their trolley apart from their child, 7News reported.

A staff member had to check the contents of the trolley and unlock the wheels with a remote before the customer could proceed out of the door.

“My wife only needed to grab two things and my toddler was acting up, so I decided to head out with her in the trolley early,” the customer said.

“I had no idea Coles has tech to lock up your trolley.”


Coles trolleys have some nifty additions to help stop theft. Photo: 7News Melbourne

Retail theft has soared recently, with a survey released in April of companies that operate more than 8900 stores across Australia and New Zealand finding the average reported crime-related losses for the period in 2021-22 amounted to $4.3 billion for the entire retail sector.

Big rise in shoplifting

This represented a 28 per cent increase since 2017-18, and was largely driven by customer theft, and the average ‘shoplifting incident’ included up to five items.

Inflationary pressures have seen consumer spending slow down, and Gary Mortimer, Queensland University of Technology consumer and retail expert, told TND there is often a correlation between cost-of-living increases and higher rates of retail theft.

“Retail theft can cost millions and millions of dollars to retailers across Australia every year,” he said.

“And it’s not just the big supermarkets or the big retailers exposed to this; it’s the local corner store, it’s convenience stores, it’s fuel drive-offs at service stations.”

A Coles spokesperson told TND the trolley lock technology is just one of several anti-theft measures being taken.

“Coles has a range of security measures in place to reduce theft from our stores including CCTV and electronic article surveillance,” Coles said.

“Trolley lock technology has been in place at a number of our stores in recent years and this technology uses sensors to prevent trolleys leaving the store if someone hasn’t first paid at a register.

“We are keen to hear what our customers think of the new technology before it is rolled out further.”

Further anti-theft measures

Dr Mortimer said electronically activated security (EAS) tags can be found on everything from expensive moisturisers to fresh meats.

Additionally, CCTV footage, plain-clothes security personnel, EAS gates and AI technology in self-serve checkouts identify incorrectly-scanned products or items left in the trolley all work together to mitigate store losses.

Dr Mortimer said trolley locks could also help stem trolley theft, which is an issue for retailers, costing them thousands of dollars a year.

Other forms of trolley-loss prevention include coin locks, and technology that locks trolley wheels when they reach the perimeters of stores or shopping centres.

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