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Neighborhood Shopping Carts
updated: May 18, 2011, 4:50 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

I have a neighbor who takes shopping carts from Albertsons/Costco often and leaves them around our neighborhood. This happens at least a couple times per week. What can I do? I went to the sheriff's station in Camino Real and they basically brushed me off saying they can't do anything. What do you suggest? Talk to the stores? Pile them in her driveway?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 174660 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 05:09 PM

Putting them in her driveway seems pretty reasonable to me.


 COMMENT 174662 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 05:10 PM

Talk to the Sheriff's Department again, but this time ask to speak with a supervisor. Taking a shopping cart off-premises has been a misdemeanor for some years now, IF the carts are properly and permanently marked with the business's name, etc., thus the cops CAN do something about it.

See the CA Business & Professions Code Section 22435.2: It is unlawful to do any of the following acts, if a
shopping cart or laundry cart has a permanently affixed sign as provided in Section 22435.1:
(a) To remove a shopping cart or laundry cart from the premises or parking area of a retail establishment with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner or retailer of possession of the cart [et seq]...


 COMMENT 174663 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 05:12 PM

Most Supermarkets contract with a shopping cart recovery service. Souther California is serviced by:
For Cart Pick-Up
Call 24 hours a day
(800) 252-4613


 COMMENT 174664 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 05:12 PM

Better yet, put them on her front door step with a note to return them to the store next time she goes.


 COMMENT 174682P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 05:40 PM

I am guessing her behavior is driven not by "Oh, I am done shopping, I will just drop off the cart in random places," but rather mental illness.
Does she ever have family visit? Does she live alone? Someone who might care needs to be informed. Is she older? She might have early onset of mild dementia. Is anything else weird happening? Sounds like a first step is an intervention by a loved one or social service to assess.
As they say, "It's not about the shopping cart."


 COMMENT 174686 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 05:53 PM

682: That may well be the case, but I see plenty of people doing it & I don't think they are all mentally ill. I think most are just plain lazy. I agree with the short term solution of calling the numbers above to have the carts removed, but if the PD refuses to do anything, I'd start stacking them on her lawn/driveway/whatever with a giant fluorescent poster sign saying "Shopping Cart Theft Is A Crime!" If the carts just keep getting picked up, she won't do anything about it. Make it obvious she's doing something wrong, and maybe she'll take the giant fluorescent hint.


 COMMENT 174691 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 06:05 PM

I called that CART number a couple of weeks ago for a similar problem. No response so far in my case.


 COMMENT 174694 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 06:13 PM

I would ignore the shopping carts or call the stores and have them picked up.

As for stacking them in her driveway, 664 & 686, you might find a shopping cart rammed through your front door.


 COMMENT 174696 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 06:14 PM

Maybe you can get a reward for taking them back to the store?


 COMMENT 174697 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 06:15 PM

@686 You think that people who have to push their groceries home in a shopping cart is lazy? I bet you have a car don't you? Not everyone has it as easy as you do. Have some compassion.


 COMMENT 174700 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 06:29 PM

compassion nor necessity make it okay to abandon shopping carts in front of your neighbor's house.


 COMMENT 174702 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 06:31 PM

Shakey - Do you advocate breaking the law when it is more convenient? There are always other options. Maybe this person could make friends with a neighbor with a car and share trips to the market. To choose to break the law is indeed lazy. I only have compassion for people who are willing to work within the laws of society.


 COMMENT 174704 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 06:38 PM

If you don't have a car, you can buy and bring your own personal grocery cart with you. Most of the markets even sell them.

Or you can steal a cart, cause the store to have to pay a reward for it to be returned and the rest of us can all pay a little more at the grocery store.


 COMMENT 174705 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 06:38 PM

Maybe because it's a misdemeanor and the police aren't witnessing it, it would be difficult for them to actually do anything. I think there is more than one reason for people to use shopping carts, but if they are going to, they should return it on the next visit. Sure are a lot of assumptions being made by commenters re the immigration status, age, mental health of this woman...


 COMMENT 174722P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 07:26 PM

Have you asked her about it? Maybe she needs a used portable cart. You might be able find one at a thrift store and leave it for her anon or not anon? Granted its not your responsibility but it would be a good deed :-)


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 08:30 PM

@702 Maybe you could become her friend and give her a ride.


 COMMENT 174743 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 09:12 PM

This is a strange situation. A person repeatedly "steals" a shopping cart, then abandons it. The shopping cart is not damaged and can be returned to it's owner in the same condition. Is this really a crime, or is she just borrowing it without permission? And if it is repeated, does the owner bear some responsibility?


 COMMENT 174744P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 09:18 PM

I'm having the same problem on Valdez. I've taken a few carts back myself as I often walk to the store.

I finally saw the woman doing it but didn't have my camera. Next time I will get a photo / video and take it to the cops (or maybe post to edHat?).


 COMMENT 174750P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-18 09:42 PM

Dan, those carts are quite expensive. If someone steals my car and abandons it undamaged, is it a crime or "just" borrowed without permission?


 COMMENT 174760 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 06:15 AM

We live next to a seniors only apartment complex and there are sr's that regularly abandon the grocery store carts on our property or on the parkway strip in front of our house. I think they could definitely afford to buy their own light weight cart but choose not to and I find this to be very rude behavior. Unfortunately because I call the store to have the carts picked up the cart thieves just continue doing it as if it's not their problem. What ever happened to personal responsibility for one's own actions?


 COMMENT 174761 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 06:30 AM

760- Personal responsibility went out the window decades ago, sadly. I don't care what the reason is, taking a cart and not returning it is just wrong. Add to that littering the neighborhood with carts she won't return is wrong. If she can push a cart home she can take it back. Report her.


 COMMENT 174774 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 06:58 AM

Maybe the City or County could pass a law that shoppers not only were required to bring re-usable bags to the store to shop but they also had to bring their own cart! That would solve the problem of abandoned carts which inevitabley get damaged, wind up in creek beds, etc.
I am sure the supermarket chains would be delighted to get rid of carts while at the same time pleasing all of the eco-greenies by announcing a pilot program to eliminate their provision of shopping carts and instituting yet another "bring your own" program or pehaps post a sign with a picture of a shopping cart over the words 'WHERES YOURS"?


 COMMENT 174777 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 07:13 AM

Print out a copy of the law and give it to her. Maybe she doesn't know it's illegal. And as for "it's OK if she returns it the next day" - so the store then has to buy more carts because there are none where customers need them!


 COMMENT 174781 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 07:19 AM

I like the idea of putting them in her driveway or front door area.......thus, allowing other neighbors to recognize the 'offender'.

It happens all over town (Goleta, SB), and since I don't know who 'does it' - I call the stores to 'come get their carts'.

If I knew who the offender was, I would be likely to put the carts in front of the offender's door or driveway. Make a 'statement'


 COMMENT 174784 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 07:28 AM

...does she not retrieve a cart she abandoned to take back to the store next visit? if not, seems like bizarre behavior, she's not making the 'connect'.

I'd talk to her, explain why you are upset and see if you can discuss various scenarios that would work to your mutual benefit: dial a ride, her own personal wheeled cart (she may prefer the stability/sturdyness of the store cart for balance) or perhaps RSVP program seniors-helping-seniors rideshare trips to the grocery. Intervention is definitely called for.


 BLT agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 07:51 AM

I have occasionally stopped those who are pushing store carts back to my neighborhood and told them that it is illegal to take the carts away from the stores. I think this is an effective way to deal with the problem - not confrontational but informative. I think the word is getting around because there is no longer a problem with carts being left at curb side in the bike lane along Phelps forcing bikes to veer out of the bike lane to get around - and I haven't seen a cart being pushed through the neighborhood recently. A couple of days ago, I did see a gentleman pushing a cart back to Home Depot that he had borrowed - good for him!


 COMMENT 174804P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 08:03 AM

@750P and BLT +1. Would it be OK to borrow a golf cart from the course after you finish your rounds and drive it home? OK to keep a rental car and never turn it in? The grocery carts are provided for shopper convenience and incentive to purchase more stuff, but that doesn't mean it's OK to take them off the store's lot. There are plenty of alternatives ranging from shopping more frequently (urban city model) to carpooling to buying one's own folding cart.


 COMMENT 174816 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 08:14 AM

705 The rule prohibiting an arrest or citation regarding misdemeanors not committed in the presence of the officer, does not apply here. All shopping carts have an identification of ownership on them. A person seen with such a cart off of the premises of owner's business is subject to questioning and ultimately citation (or arrest) for removing a shopping cart form that business without permission or authority in violation of California laws. The misdemeanor, then, is actually being committed in the presence of the officer. The difficulty would be if a third person "told" the officer about the illegal shopping cart activity committed earlier, in which case the third party who witnesses it would have to make a "citizens'" arrest of the perpetrator because it did not occur in the officers presence.


 COMMENT 174824 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 08:18 AM

Bravo 761, I agree 100%. however if she's a neighbor I think I'd talk to her first about the situation. As a homeowner I don't want anyone leaving anything in my front yard - have some respect. Then I'd explain that it's a misdemeanor. Then I'd ask if she would please return the cart in a timely fashion and "store" it on her property meanwhile. If she cannot or will not, I'd begin reporting her to both law enforcement and the stores she is stealing the carts from. As neighbors we can intervene but only to a certain extent. Then we can ask others for help to rectify the situation. If she has a mental illness or incapacity, as a neighbor I cannot take responsibilty for her help or treatment. And i'm not sure it's my place to try to contact her family...


 COMMENT 174827 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 08:19 AM

When I lived in Philadelphia, in a mixed rich/poor area adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania, all the grocery stores there had concrete barriers around the perimeter of the store. There were narrow gaps where you could walk through, but you could not push a cart through. Very few people drove (not at all a car culture like California), and everyone had a wheeled cart. They were sold in the store. Several were available in the entrance hall of my apartment building, for us to use for groceries and laundry. When everyone walks, people figure things out. Looks like it's time for some cross-cultural shift.


 COMMENT 174830 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 08:21 AM

Sorry. "... Or will not stop taking carts home,..."


 COMMENT 174835P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 08:26 AM

@720 & BLT, i used to live in that area as well. people push carts down Phelps and then just dump them in Ellwood or on the street at their convenience, very obnoxious. sort of like the RV guy who would park in front of my house and have picnics with his dogs off leash in my front yard. i eventually got fed up with all the litter, graffiti, vagrants living in the wildlife preserve and being under the airport flight path. i live on the mesa now and have noticed people are more laid back but at the same time show a little pride for their neighborhood. i don't understand why some folks can't show any respect their neighbors and the environment.


 COMMENT 174854P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 08:52 AM

How about suggesting to the supermarkets that they have a bulletin board of photos of people shown with the store carts off the market property?

There are quite a few in the lower east of SB and there's also regular pickup by the truck hired by the supermarkets --- and, no doubt, paid for by the rest of us with higher prices.


 SHOREBIRD agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 09:15 AM

Smart and Final downtown has carts that cannot leave the parking lot without the wheels locking up. Sound like a logical solution.


 COMMENT 174899 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 09:58 AM

Considering how many people just leave their carts in the middle of a parking space it doesn't surprise me to think that some take it a step further.
I recall one older woman saying she was doing a good thing by leaving the cart there because it gave someone a job....

well, maybe but also gave someone a door ding and in this case gave a neighborhood blight.

I hope that you can have a civil, productive conversation to remedy the situation. I LOVE the idea of getting her a used cart, pimp it up and make it exclusively hers to be proud of. Could be fun!

Good luck!


 COMMENT 174908P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-19 10:12 AM

I used to shop in a grocery store that had a pipe bolted to each cart that stuck up in the air about six feet. It was physically impossible to exit the store with the cart as the pipe wouldn't clear the door openings! The # of carts was pretty limited to the # that would fit in the store, however they didn't have to employee people to retrieve them from the lot. A very inexpensive and low-tech solution.


 COMMENT 175513P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-21 08:51 PM

Our neighbors, who lived several houses up the road from us and didn't have a car, used to leave shopping carts outside our house. I printed up a friendly notice (in Spanish and English) requesting that they not leave shopping carts outside our fence; it worked. Incidentally, multiple calls to the grocery store brought no response.


 COMMENT 177930 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 03:20 PM

Have called the Sheriff's Dept. and they told me the Grocery Stores allow this. Called the Grocery Stores and they gave me the shopping cart #. Cart # didn't answer. Took the cart to the guilty house, knocked on the door, and told them to keep them in their yard, better yet, take them back to the store. That's stealing!!! Haven't seen another cart in my yard. If No one address it, you'll have more carts!! They don't understand it's WRONG!!!!


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