Despite numerous security measures and education efforts, many people just do not return the trolleys after shopping at FairPrice supermarkets.
This is a problem especially at the FairPrice and FairPrice Xtra outlets at Jurong Point mall, which together have the highest number of unreturned trolleys across all FairPrice outlets despite there being 17 trolley return bays at the mall.
From the start of the year, an average of 150 to 200 trolleys from the two stores have been wheeled out of the mall and abandoned every day.
Yesterday, the supermarket chain rolled out its latest effort to hold on to its trolleys - by getting "trolley enforcement officers" to educate members of the public about returning trolleys by talking to them or handing them leaflets.
The leaflets remind customers not to leave with the supermarket's trolleys, adding that these are its property, and that it reserves "the right to make a police report if they are wheeled away from the mall".
FairPrice had made police reports about abandoned trolleys last year and this year, with warnings issued to errant shoppers, but the problem still persists.
Under the pilot scheme at the mall, trolley enforcement officers may be stationed at places such as the supermarkets' entrances and exits, as well as the trolley return bays.
They are in-house security officers doubling as trolley enforcement officers, and wear a vest with their new designation. There are a total of 10 trolley enforcement officers working in shifts.
Last year, FairPrice lost about 1,000 trolleys from more than 90 of its stores, costing it more than $150,000 in trolley replacements, repairs and manpower to retrieve the trolleys.
This was a rise of almost 20 per cent compared with five years ago, when more than 800 trolleys were lost.
"Most of our shoppers return the trolleys after using them, but unfortunately, there is a small group of customers who don't," said Mr Seah Kian Peng, chief executive officer of FairPrice.
"This inconveniences other shoppers, as well as staff who have to (find and) collect the trolleys, sometimes taking 40 minutes just to retrieve a trolley," he added.
The pilot scheme will last three months, with FairPrice having no plans to introduce it at other stores for now.
To address the trolley problem, Jurong Point's management will share campaign materials online and through e-mail, on top of in-store signs and messages in stores to remind customers to return their trolleys.
The Frontier Community Club has also engaged students from Jurong West Secondary School to distribute fliers at the mall and to nearby residents.
Previous efforts to address the problem have included making shoppers leave some form of personal identification in order to take trolleys out of the store; a system where trolley wheels automatically lock when they cross certain boundaries; and public education campaigns with the Singapore Kindness Movement, which have been held since 2010.