SACRAMENTO -- If you’ve ever gone to a grocery store and had to hunt for a shopping cart you know how frustrating it can be.
But across the Sacramento area, there are entire teams of people searching for carts that have gone missing or were stolen and bringing them back to the grocery stores.
It was a slow day for Joseph DeMichele and David Fisher.
"We have a set of hotspots where we know where the carts are at and they usually get daily service," DeMichele said.
Their job was to cruise the streets of Sacramento and go through recycling facilities to search for carts.
"It's like an Easter egg hunt every day," DeMichele said. "You have to go and you don't know where all the shopping carts are located. So the best person finds the cart, basically."
Their company, Citywide Cart Savers, contracts with grocery stores across the area. When a store has lots of missing carts, they'll call and the cart retrieval team will hit the road looking for them.
"In central and Northern California we return up to 30,000 carts per month," DeMichele said.
Fisher has been a contractor with the company since 1998. Since then, he says new technology has changed the industry.
"So the wheel locking systems has slowed it down quite a bit, but it hasn't cured the problem," Fisher said. "People can still grab ahold of the front of the cart and drag it off. That damages the wheel lock systems and the store has to put out more money to get it replaced."
One of the biggest causes of stolen carts, DeMichele admits, is the homeless using them to store their belongings.
"But as far as theft and the homeless situation occupying the carts, we lose a lot of carts from our clients that way," DeMichele said.
DeMichele says it's a tough business but as long as people keep stealing carts, they'll be there to bring them back where they belong.
"When the cart bandits want to take a shopping cart they're gonna find a way," DeMichele said.
DeMichele told FOX40 they usually earn about $10 per cart they return to the store. It's a good deal, considering a new cart could cost a store between $70 and $200.