Stealing Shopping Carts – Should the Law be Enforced?

July 13, 2014 15:00 pm · 81 comments


Shopping carts are stolen everyday, probably from almost every single store in Claycord, but we rarely hear about any enforcement (it does happen, but not often).

Should local law enforcement agencies give citations to those who steal shopping carts?

iluvfriedchicken July 13, 2014 at 3:05 PM

No, because we can pick and choose what laws we want to obey.

Enfield303 July 13, 2014 at 3:22 PM

I agree with #1. ALL laws should be enforced. That’s why we we have them.

All laws should be enforced. July 13, 2014 at 3:24 PM

A citation really does little if anything.

Take the carts away from the thieves.

Bruce July 13, 2014 at 3:26 PM

No. Stores could easily police this themselves… if these shopping carts are so valuable, these corporations should take better care of them and secure them at night. We don’t need the police department doing the job these corporations should be doing already.

Horse n around July 13, 2014 at 3:36 PM

I say the City should hire people to write tickets to those that take carts from the property. I just saw 2 yesterday walking with a dollar store cart over by the Ellis Lake area. They are either to lazy to carry their own bags, or the don’t have a vehicle. Which honestly doesn’t matter. Don’t take or borrow what is not yours without permission. And please don’t feel the need to call the police. Come on. They have enough to deal with. Tell your City council members. Maybe Grayson or someone that we so called elected, will find the time in his busy schedule to find funds to support this and the garbage being dumped on the sides of the road and multiple housing. Etc.

Bertha July 13, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Pretty hard to hide a shopping cart. Don’t think they are stolen, just borrowed. I hate seeing them left in neighborhoods… so trashy.
There should be a fine and then return of cart to store..
Most stores have locks on them so they can’t leave the area, but people will find a way

Ask the stores July 13, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Law enforcement can only enforce it if the stores wish to press charges, which I’m guessing they never do. They just want their cart back.

The Lobby Hobby July 13, 2014 at 3:53 PM

I have a religious objection to returning shopping carts therefore I should be exempt from that law.

Always Right July 13, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Enforce the law. Cite the perp and make them return the stolen cart to the store. If they refuse, then impound the contents.

ConcordMike July 13, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Code Enforcement should handle this problem.
Perhaps Safeway could do away with the $150 minimum order for
Drive Up grocery service. They have this at the Pleasant Hill Safeway.
You send in your grocery list, and later on you drive to the rear of the store and they load up your trunk. Might as well have it delivered since they are both $150 minimum order.

Dorothy July 13, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Well, the police can issue the tickets or citations for all the good it will do. “borrowed” carts that are not returned are stolen. Some stores have electronic gizmos that lock the wheels if they go past a certain point.

There are those who drive around picking up carts and getting paid for returning them to the stores. Do we want to remove their livelihood?

Meemo July 13, 2014 at 4:02 PM

I like having lots of shopping carts in the neighborhood. It’s like a warning sign that says “You do not want to buy a house in this neighborhood.”

ktop July 13, 2014 at 4:06 PM

We had a shopping cart on our property for some time. I called the store it belonged to several times with no response. I called the city and they referred me to an outside vender 800-252-4613/925-671-5080.

The shopping cart was picked up this morning.
Thought this would be good to share.

Everytime I go for a walk, I see another shopping cart.

Cowellian July 13, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Borrowing without permission is stealing.

Julio July 13, 2014 at 4:16 PM

99 cent store has a locking device if you try to cross the boundary line they put in some distance from their store they LOCK up and you cannot go any farther. I love it because now they are no longer all over my neighborhood.

CVS no longer has carts because they never bothered to go out in the parking lot and collect them several times a day. I no longer shop there because of that.

EdiBirsan July 13, 2014 at 4:20 PM

The City has a service that will pick up abandoned carts in Concord:


This is a 24 hour automated line. Give the location/address/cross street of the cart and if you can a description…for me it is usually the handle color.
They are pretty good about picking it up in 24-48 hours except on the weekends.

kax July 13, 2014 at 4:26 PM

just give a cart to all who wants one….and fill it up, too, with whatever they want…FREE…..why work???? this is California….it’s all FREE….

Just Me July 13, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Maybe we can pay CPD officers overtime to go around hunting for cart thieves. Would be a great use of city resources.

All this ba-ha about carts. If you really care do much them why do t you return the carts you see abandoned? Oh yea. That’s right. Because it’s much easier to complain about a problem than of anything about it.

Silva July 13, 2014 at 4:30 PM

In West Oakland/Emeryville there’s a guy with a truck who drives around collecting the stolen carts and brings them back to the stores who I’m sure must be paying a fee, but it’s probably a much better deal than replacing all those carts. It’s probably less futile than paying police or city employees to write citations. Yeah, I’m sure the cost is passed on to the consumer, but it’s still a better deal than paying for new carts.

Mr. John July 13, 2014 at 4:32 PM

We shouldn’t have people stealing these things in the first place.

Ancient Mariner July 13, 2014 at 4:48 PM

I found a Long’s Drugs shopping cart in my front garden one morning (yes, it was a long time ago). On it was a number to call for found carts. So I called the number and was told “We can’t come and pick it up”.
I guess a cart is not valuable enough to want it back if it means some effort.

Buck July 13, 2014 at 4:49 PM

No, because I like it when those to lazy to return the cart to a designated area,usually 50 feet away or less abandon their cart so it can roll away and ding someones car.One more stolen cart is one less ding.

DummitDowns July 13, 2014 at 4:53 PM

I love the idea of putting my food in a bacteria riddled cart that a homeless person has been living out. And btw, it’s theft plain and simple, unless you bought the cart it ‘s not yours to take from the property. Find another way to transport your dirty clothes and junk.

Atticus Thraxx July 13, 2014 at 4:54 PM

I don’t have strong feelings about shopping carts.

Wit-Sec July 13, 2014 at 4:55 PM

There has been technology available for several years which locks the wheels of shopping carts if taken beyond the parking lot.

This device should be implemented at the expense of corporations instead of enforced at the expense of taxpayers, i.e. law enforcement, courts, etc.

GD98 July 13, 2014 at 5:16 PM

If the stores who are having their shopping carts stolen aren’t being proactive then why should taxpayers pay for the enforcement of a really low level “crime”?

Anonymous July 13, 2014 at 5:17 PM

These thieves should be made to perform seppuku.

green July 13, 2014 at 5:17 PM

hard to prove who stole the cart.

plus what are the homeless supposed to push their stuff in? they have it yard enough.

JW July 13, 2014 at 5:19 PM

I was in the Safeway at the Marina Green in SF just recently and someone came by in the middle of the night and swiped most of the carts. It was pretty insane. They don’t even have security cameras.

Nutcreek Frontier July 13, 2014 at 5:29 PM

It is plain stealing and an annoyance to see them dumped on city streets…however, be thankful you don’t have to resort to pushing your groceries around town like the homeless and very needy.

Brig July 13, 2014 at 5:35 PM

All laws are and should be enforceable, the question is do you have the man power and revenue to support such trysts? If you want police to start chasing little old lady’s for shopping carts, than you may think about getting a huge budget increase for the police by putting it on the ballot and vote for at least a 1% sales tax increase, heck do a study?…Change your mind yet? I’m pretty sure businesses build in their budget for this type of loss and they can also do a lot more to prevent theft, but then that comes down to the all might dollar again.

eric July 13, 2014 at 6:21 PM

@ Dorothy – The people that drive around this area and pick up the abandoned shopping carts are paid for by a contract through the local cities. In answer to your question about wanting to “remove their livelihood”, I don’t personally want to hurt anyone’s chance at making a living but I do think this cost should not fall on the tax-payers. The companies/stores that own the carts should have to pay the contracts to round up the carts and not you, me or anyone else. It’s their choice to use carts that are able to leave the premises, many companies use the technology that prevents carts from functioning beyond the stores parking lot boundaries. I agree with the general consensus that, as a society it is better to follow all laws/rules (As opposed to picking and choosing what we follow. I think we read enough about those kind of people enough here on but I don’t think that this would be an effective use of law enforcement resources to have them ramp up their enforcement of this issue. And seriously, most offenders would be in the category of low-income, vagrant, homeless and indigent so what good would giving them a fine do?

Anon July 13, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Unlike West and East Coast Democrats, and like #1 said, we can’t pick and choose what laws to obey. If a law is unjust then it should be repelled not ignored.

Cowellian July 13, 2014 at 6:28 PM

So green, I suppose you’ll have no complaints if I take your car the next time mine breaks down.

Marissa July 13, 2014 at 6:41 PM

The law should be enforced, for every cart stolen there is a loss because they have to be replaced. This is one of the reasons prices are so high because the end cost is passed on to the consumer.

Lari July 13, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Still waiting for someone at CVCHS to notice the shopping cart that’s lying on their grounds along Academy. In the past, I’ve actually threw one that was lying on the grounds into my wagon and hauled it back to the store. But it’s behind a fence this time. It’s really not a good message to homeowners in the area or people wanting their kids to go to this school to see that. If someone here is affiliated with the charter school, please do something about it.

But back to the original question – yes, I think there should be citations given if caught.

anon July 13, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Send the shopping carts and the homeless to Clayton, it’s time for Clayton to do their part in helping the homeless.

Aspirin July 13, 2014 at 7:23 PM

No problem. We all pay for the stolen carts. Let’s see, each cart is worth at least $200., right? Multiply that times the hundreds of carts gone missing and add that figure to our grocery bills. Simple math, and we are helping the poor.

Barbosa July 13, 2014 at 7:45 PM

Any law that is on the books should be enforced. If it’s not worth the effort to enforce then take the law off the books. That’s why we so vigorously enforce our border laws.

yep July 13, 2014 at 7:45 PM

#1 has it right! In this society, especially in CA, we can pick and choose which laws we obey and enforce: shopping carts, cell phone while driving, speed laws, immigration laws, etc. That’s the way it is today……

ClayDen July 13, 2014 at 8:14 PM

It’s stealing and it’s against the law. Prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

chubby July 13, 2014 at 8:30 PM

If I steal a $3 dollar loaf of bread the police will bring me down, and rightly so. If I’m “homeless enough” I can steal a $300 shopping cart and parade it around town and smile and wave at the police. Maybe they’ll even smile and wave back?

I know a lot of people think it would be inhumane to relieve a homeless person of their shopping cart. I understand having compassion for those that are so down that everything they own is on their back, or in a shopping cart. If we truly feel the indigent should be allowed their shopping carts, then we should create the Department of Homeless Shopping Carts and tax ourselves accordingly to fund it. It could probably even employ the homeless to distribute, fix and maintain the shopping carts.

The alternative is the current arrangement, where any retailer large enough to provide shopping carts for their customers is forced to bear the cost of this involuntary social program. Who knows how much this costs a typical grocery store per day? I don’t know about you all, but I find the cost of feeding my family to be depressingly expensive. I doubt that having expensive shopping carts disappearing year after year is helping to keep prices low.

This is not kids stealing candy bars. The money involved is significant. I believe the paradigm needs to be shifted to where if the police see you walking down the street with a $300 item clearly lifted from a local retailer, be it a shopping cart or a desk lamp, they stop to investigate. And also that the stores hold up their end and retrieve their stolen property.

Michelle July 13, 2014 at 8:31 PM

You’re wasting your breath, Lari. I’ve tried, but no one seems to care.

vet July 13, 2014 at 8:40 PM

I work in a town that had a person gather and bring them back.Some of them were so gross that I felt they should be burnt, then let a baby sit in it.I even watched sum guy pushing his dog in one of my stores carts.It had got so bad that our guest did not have any thing to put there stuff in. To replace carts cast money witch in turn cuts my hours of work and eventually ups the cost to our consumers. One way or another we all pay for this. I think people should be fined. Rich or poor there is no gray area theft is theft.

Kelly July 13, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Only Morons steal shopping carts in the first place. I put my dog in one, brought it home and in a few moments the cart was gone.

Chevrolet girl July 13, 2014 at 9:21 PM

If someone is going to steal shopping carts I really don’t think they will pay a fine if caught. The companies that own them should have the locking mechanisms on them.

Kelly Anne July 13, 2014 at 9:29 PM

The old Safeway on monument had the locking device where it couldn’t leave the lot. It was so damn funny to watch as these people would push the cart & it would lock up.they would just keep trying & trying.quite entertaining…

Chevrolet girl July 13, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Here’s a thought. If I post flyers for a garage sale for example and leave them up well past the date of the sale, is that considered littering? If so the companies that have carts all over town are littering also. They should be held responsible. I might not be thinking this through all the way but it makes sense to me for the moment. Now back to my wine!

Claycord girl July 13, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Yes, because it is against the law to steal anything, and it is also wrong morally. Additionally, we pay more for our food, etc. because these carts are stolen.

AldrigeFamily July 13, 2014 at 9:33 PM


Why don’t you report it? why are you waiting for someone else to do it then complain they haven’t done it? Cart Removal 1-800-252-4613 or use the cartsnap app for the phone.

wow July 13, 2014 at 9:39 PM

concord pd is much too lazy to stop each person pushing a cart and cite them. This would require them to actually get our of their car and actually work and who wants to do that?

Carnac the Magnificent July 13, 2014 at 9:56 PM

The District Attorney doesn’t have the resources to prosecute serious misdemeanors. The chances of Mark Peterson prosecuting shopping cart thefts is just about zero.

Dr. Jellyfinger® July 13, 2014 at 9:58 PM

Golly I hope they don’t start taking it seriously….. I must have about 30 carts in my yard by now. I found that it is just ever so slightly downhill all the way from Safeway to my house. If I time it just right I can walk to the corner, hop onto the bumper of the County Connection bus & bail out at Clayton & Kirker. I get my groceries and just skip & roll all the way back to downtown Clayton to take the secret turn off to my place. They should put brakes on those carts. I had to put an arrest cable across my walkway to stop my downhill descents.

Customers July 13, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Pay for this overhead expense . Consumers
pay for EVERYTHING, tax payers pay for all
govt. Programs. That’s how it will always be. We
must demand we get what we pay for!

She Turned Me Into A Newt (not The Gringrich Who Stole Xmas) July 13, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Burn Them I say!
Chop off their feet for stealing, Then Burn their feet! Burn them in a public pyre in Todos Santos….BURNBABYBURN burn them AAack AAAackheeeeeve splutter splutz.

Tired of it! July 14, 2014 at 12:17 AM

I am so tired of people taking what is not theres i feel that if you get caught stealing anything a million dollars or a piece of gum you loose a hand. Not cut off but pulled off and then really do it. Bet ya thefts go way down real quick. If it is not yours leave it the f*** alone. I feel better now.

Lari July 14, 2014 at 12:32 AM

Michelle: don’t waste breath with school b/c they don’t care? I was part of a group who spent an afternoon pulling weeds and was hopeful to see change. Guess not, huh?

AldridgeFamily: if you read correctly, you’ll note that I don’t tend to sit on my hands, complaining. I’m a person of action – to the point where I put a cart in my car to return and that was AFTER I tried that 800 number to no avail. Thanks for the info about the app, I haven’t tried that yet. But really, I read so much about how CVCHS wants to boost its image and instill pride and yet the grounds look so terrible on the Academy side. I can’t believe they’d just let that sit there.

Anonymous July 14, 2014 at 5:14 AM

They need to enforce the law because I see too many shopping carts near bus stops from people who are too lazy to carry whatever they purchased.

..... July 14, 2014 at 5:21 AM

While it is a violation, just think about trying it enforce it. If it’s an infraction, you’d have to catch someone in the act to cite them. What agency has the resources to do that?

More feel-good laws written by those who don’t understand the consequences when it comes time to enforce them.

Connie Dobbs July 14, 2014 at 7:26 AM

Aspirin is right. It’s the height of compassion to give a homeless person a shopping cart in which to haul their estate. Addressing the root causes of homelessness is judgmental and those people are frightening and smelly. A homeless person who improves their lot becomes just another anonymous prole, but every time one sees a bum with his very own shopping cart provided by the soulless retail corporations? There’s no replacing the warmth of smug satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve Helped the Poor. It’s like getting a hug from yourself.

The Mamba July 14, 2014 at 7:27 AM

I think its just one more arrow in the police’s quiver to deal with chronically drunk/homeless. What’s the point in writing a ticket or making an arrest if the person you are dealing with has no money and will never show up though? You’re just tying up resources that could be deployed elsewhere.

PO'd July 14, 2014 at 7:48 AM

Face it,nothing is going to happen.I guess we might as well accept it as a normal part of everyday life. The homeless know this as well as the lazy scum who think it’s ok to take the cart back to their residence.

Anon July 14, 2014 at 7:57 AM

Speaking of lazy Concord PD, what was happening yesterday about 5pm on the corner of Clayton Road and Treat Blvd? There were 6 or 7 cops cars and two civilian vehicles, one in the dirt lot and one part way on the road perpendicular to traffic. It looked like the cops were just hanging out having fun while the rubber neckers screwed up traffic.

Anonymous July 14, 2014 at 8:32 AM

Writing citations for stealing shopping carts would be an exercise in futility — since the offenders more than likely do not have the money to pay a fine and there’s really no penalty for NOT paying — and therefore a waste of the Police Department’s (i.e., taxpayer) money. I wonder, however, why one would only receive a citation for stealing a shopping cart. If I steal goods from a business (even just groceries) and am caught, I’m likely to be arrested. I’m sure the shopping carts cost far more than the groceries, clothes, toys, home improvement goods, etc. that I could steal from some of the businesses that have carts in this area….why is it I wouldn’t be arrested for the theft or, at the very least, for “possession of stolen property” if found with one? Not saying we need jails full of those who’ve stolen/used a shopping cart….just wondering, why the different treatment for that particular piece of property owned by a business?

Sara July 14, 2014 at 9:49 AM

If you have traveled in Europe you may have seen at large supermarkets/grocery stores a very simple system: shopping carts are locked, and after inserting quarter you get one out. When you return it, quarter pops out back to your hand. I have not seen carts all over the town anywhere even in a small cities. So what is our problem? We are lazy to return the carts to a designated storage on the parking lot, we can pay for picking them up all over the town………

green July 14, 2014 at 10:35 AM

What you need to realize is this:

In order for the po-po to arrest someone for theft of a shopping cart, they need to catch them in the act. Just wheeling it down a street is not a crime. They can simply claim they found the cart in a ditch somewhere, which actually may be true. And you can’t charge them with possession of stolen property, since there is no proof they knew it was stolen. It could have originally been donated, thrown out, etc.


“So green, I suppose you’ll have no complaints if I take your car the next time mine breaks down.”

No, since I only have one. Grocery stores, on the other hand, have plenty and can easily eat the loss.

Michelle July 14, 2014 at 10:56 AM

@Sara #66
That used to be the US system some years ago; and it’s obvious you have never been to Europe.

R July 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Edi Birsan,

The City’s abandoned cart franchisee should be picking up the carts without people having to call in — and if they say they are, they are not doing a very good job of it. Nothing says blight like having an abandoned shopping cart tipped on its side for two days until somebody picks it up. Also — the recycle center at the Willow Pass Safeway is notorious for shoving the carts that have been pushed into the parking lot by scavengers out onto the Concord Blvd. sidewalk and then just leaving them there to become somebody else’s problem. The least they could do is call the service for pick it up and keep them in the parking lot instead of out on the sidewalk. That recycle center is an attractive nuisance that is trashing up our City. Their permit should be yanked. And one more thing . . . shopping cart wheel locks have been around for years. Every retail planning permit issued in the last 15 years should have had a condition attached that all shopping carts must have wheel locks. Doesn’t look like that happened.

green July 14, 2014 at 11:26 AM


so you don’t think the homeless would pop in a quarter to steal a shopping cart? It’s actually a bargain for just a quarter.

Sara July 14, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Dear Michelle, I typically make it to Europe every other year for the past 30 years.

anonanonagain July 14, 2014 at 1:03 PM

@ Sara @ #66, I agree with you. In Europe people have their OWN carts for which to transport their shopping, belongings etc. Also, most countries there are socialist so you don’t see that many homeless people which is a large part of the problem. If only we lived in a land where people had respect for other people’s belongings and the laws. Yeah right.

tired of taxes July 14, 2014 at 1:33 PM

There gonna be a lot of students in the slammer when this gets enforced. There are a lot dorming it out in apartments along Chilpancingo and thereabouts.

Cowellian July 14, 2014 at 1:55 PM

So stealing is fine as long as no one steals from green. What a hypocrite!

Mary July 14, 2014 at 11:10 PM

Anyone caught with a shopping cart beyond the stores parking lot should be cited for theft unless maybe they have goods from the store in them.

The downtown Concord area and nearby neighborhoods have a epidemic of homeless people who leave their carts all over. It really degrades the area.

Shopping carts should also be banned from public parks. The homeless wheel them into the parks with all their crap and leave a horrendous mess behind that is disgusting.

green July 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM


“They need to enforce the law because I see too many shopping carts near bus stops from people who are too lazy to carry whatever they purchased.”

So rich people can wheel their purchases to their cars in the parking lot, but poor people who ride the bus can’t??? Why can’t the store personewl walk to the bus stop to return the carts?


I’m not a hypocrite, I’m compassionate. Homeless can’t steal from individuals, but taking a cart from a store is not stealing,

Connie Dobbs July 15, 2014 at 11:21 AM

#76 If you were really compassionate you’d buy them cars so they wouldn’t have to wrestle a cartload of groceries on and off the bus. They have to walk home from their stop, you know.

Retired LEO July 15, 2014 at 11:57 AM

@green # 76….

Homeless people can certainly steal from individuals – I’ve seen it innumerable times.

Taking a cart from a store is stealing (actually theft). Look it up in the Penal Code.

Taking property from its owner is theft, burglary or robbery – depending on how it’s acquired. Look it up in the Penal Code.

Whether you think it’s right or wrong is immaterial; it’s still defined as a crime, and there are victims associated with those crimes. Refusing to believe it or thinking the laws are “wrong” doesn’t matter.

Cowellian July 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Sorry, green, but you are not compassionate at all. That would require sharing things that belong to you. You’re just an accomplice to theft.

y-me July 15, 2014 at 12:55 PM

I happen to live in a grocery cart. I love it. No rent payment! I have my 30 thousand dollar sports car chained to it. On the days I see my head examiner I drive my car other than that you can find me just hangin out with my legs over the cart waiting for my obama ck. I hope I don’t fall out and have to sue whoever built this dammed thing. Anyone out there have a pillow I could have? I’ll have to ck and see if there’s a pillow program in California.

tired of taxes July 15, 2014 at 4:18 PM

The green thing to do would be for the stores to charge for using carts and shoppers would have to bring their own carts to avoid the fee.
(Much like doing away with plastic bags and bringing your own bags for groceries).

But it is a conflict of interest for grocery chains; carts provide more space for the shopper to buy more stuff. The cost of cart replacement is low enough for them to continue providing carts to shoppers. If the carts get lost/stolen at a ratio of 1 cart per 10000 customers, it makes business sense to provide carts.
But if the ratio goes nearer to 1 per 1000 or 1 per 100, then it doesn’t make business sense to provide carts. Or it finally makes business sense to enforce fines.

Most people just excel at whining and suck at math.

anon July 16, 2014 at 7:26 PM

What?? NO! The cops are way too busy busting people who haven’t done anything to hurt anyone and haven’t stolen anything.

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