If you’re seeing more stores charging for the use of shopping carts it’s because of thieves.

Joe Corsaro, owner of the No Frills on Wellington Street, says nearly half of his carts were stolen last year. It’s a growing concern among business owners.

“We have about 200 carts on hand at any given time. We usually lose about 100 a year.”

The carts cost about $175 each. Most usually end up in the back of apartment buildings and ditches. Some stores send employees out on a weekly basis looking for their carts.

“It's very frustrating. I believe some of them wind up at the scrap yards, damaged by snow plows, wind up in snow banks,” he says.

Loblaws says "theft of shopping carts is an issue that faces the entire retail industry. We have a number of tactics in place to deter theft and abandonment of shopping carts".

It points to coin carts that require a deposit as an example, but that hasn't stopped people from stealing them.

Some businesses, like Shoppers Drug Mart, use a wheel lock system. As soon as a cart is taken off the property the wheels lock up. Since this system was brought in, no stolen carts, but it can cost upwards of $100,000.

“Eventually these have to be paid for and it reflects in prices eventually down the road from the industry.”

Police say people can be charged with possession of stolen property and theft under $5,000.