Hundreds of trolleys have gone missing from Flaxmere New World over the years, and owner Tim Wilson is calling on those taking them to spare a thought for both the business and other shoppers.

Since taking ownership of the supermarket in July last year, Mr Wilson said at least 50 trolleys had been stolen, but the practice had been going on for years before that.

"When I took over I decided I wanted to buy new trolleys rather than second or third-hand broken ones with wheels that didn't work properly that had been done previously.

"I was hoping the community would respect them if they were new and many people appreciated the fact that they ran straight, but others just continued to take them."

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Currently the store only had 30 trolleys, and he said it was a part-time job scouring the neighbourhood to pick up ones that had been abandoned on the side of streets throughout the suburb.

"Because they cost so much we do not like to leave them on the curb too long to disappear behind fences and be gone forever - people ring us and tell us where they are and we try to get them quickly," he said.

At a cost of about $300 to $400 for a new trolley it was a big outlay, but Mr Wilson said he was still not prepared to buy anything but new.

"People in Flaxmere deserve new trolleys and ideally we like to have 50 available and I have just ordered some more with Christmas coming."

To try to combat the thieves, he said, from now he would be installing security locks on the wheels that would only work within the town centre, but then would automatically lock beyond that and require a remote device to unlock them.

The locks, however, cost about the same as the trolleys so it was a big outlay.

"It's a real pressure on the business, but we are not putting our prices up," he said.

While some people were presumably taking their shopping home with the trolleys, he said he gathered that they also made good shopping baskets, rubbish holders, hangi baskets or toy baskets, but warned that while children liked to play in them they could be dangerous.

"We can see why they are useful but they are more useful to the store."

A Flaxmere Facebook page had alerted others in the community to the thefts and people posting had shown their support.

"I see them a lot being pushed around by the old and young. Kids playing with them then when they are finished, they vandalise them. I've brought a few back to New World from by the BP and also as far as the park in town," said one poster.

Another asked what was the matter with people?

"The supermarket has run out of shopping trolleys, who is stealing them and why? The poor guy who owns the supermarket can't believe what is happening, so we are all going to pay now as the new ones are going to have lockup wheels, so if you don't make it back to your car with your purchases bad luck aye," they said.

Mr Wilson called on people to keep alerting the store when they found them, and said he tried to keep upbeat about the situation. "Most people in the community are fantastic - it's just a few letting us down."