Regulation

Georgia City Wants to Penalize Stores When Their Carts Are Stolen

A proposed ordinance would fine stores $375 for shopping carts found off their premises.

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Shopping Cart

The City of Savannah, Georgia, wants to crack down on shopping cart theft by punishing the businesses that have their carts stolen.

On Thursday, the Savannah City Council will consider a proposed ordinance to fine businesses $375 each time one of their carts is found off their property. The ordinance would also require businesses to establish a cart theft prevention and retrieval plan. Businesses that fail to establish or abide by such a plan would be fined an additional $500.

Taking a shopping cart off the property of the retailer it belongs to is already a misdemeanor criminal offense in Georgia. But not enough people think of taking a shopping cart home as stealing, says Margret Williams, the city's customer service administrator.

"In citizens' minds, they're not really stealing it, they're just borrowing it," Williams told the local Fox affiliate in November, when the ordinance was first being floated. "They just want to take it home, and they're just not thinking that they need to take it back."

The new law details the menace that free-range carts pose to the City of Savannah. According to the text of the ordinance, these carts "create conditions of blight" wherever they roam, interfering with vehicular traffic and even costing lives, since they could "impede emergency services."

Discussions of how to penalize shopkeeps for their lost or stolen property have been in the works for years, but they have faced opposition from retailers and trade associations.

Kathy Kuzava of the Georgia Food Industry Association says that adding penalties to grocery stores will only discourage them from expanding in neighborhoods that already have few retail options. "You don't want to overregulate the stores you want to come into the area," Kuzava told Savanah Morning News.

Savanah Alderman Julian Morris claims that the bill—by encouraging stores to offer cash returns in exchange for returned carts—would create jobs in the community. "If it's $1 to return a cart, or even fifty cents to return a cart, there are people who would get those carts and turn them in for the money," he told the city's Fox affiliate.

Savanah is hardly the first city in America to take this approach to stolen shopping carts.

Glendale, California, led the way in 1988, collecting carts taken from store property and charging the stores a free to get the carts back. Unlike Savannah and its $375 charge, Glendale levies a more modest $92 penalty.

Fresno, California, may have the strictest controls on shopping carts. Not only does the city require that a business owner maintain a "cart containment program" or otherwise contract with a cart retrieval business, it also threatens fines up to $1,000 and sentences of up to a year in jail for those caught in possession of a cart outside the appropriate business's propery.

All these bills operate under the ludicrous premise that stores need new incentives to prevent their own property from being stolen.

Whatever visions you might conjure of shopping carts clogging up roads and blocking ambulances, stores are the real victims of shopping cart theft. The measures they take to retain and retrieve their carts is going to depend on how likely it is their carts are stolen and whether the cost of getting them back is actually worth it.

By mandating that businesses invest in additional security for their carts when they otherwise wouldn't, the City of Savannah would only be piling on a costly regulation that serves the interests of neither businesses or their customers.

NEXT: Good Samaritans in Southern California Cited for Feeding the Homeless

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  1. encouraging stores to offer cash returns in exchange for returned carts?would create jobs in the community. “If it’s $1 to return a cart, or even fifty cents to return a cart, there are people who would get those carts and turn them in for the money,”

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      1. 2 threads in a row w a brilliant answer in the form of spam! I love this spam-bot.

  2. Margret Williams, the city’s customer service administrator.

    Oh come on! This is way beyond out of hand.

  3. Savannah Alderman Julian Morris claims that the bill?by encouraging stores to offer cash returns in exchange for returned carts?would create jobs in the community. “If it’s $1 to return a cart, or even fifty cents to return a cart, there are people who would get those carts and turn them in for the money,” he told the city’s Fox affiliate.

    What an absolutely brilliant idea, to give people even more of an incentive to commit petty theft than they already have now. Move over Tesla, only a city alderman could achieve this level of pure genius.

  4. “If it’s $1 to return a cart, or even fifty cents to return a cart, there are people who would get those carts and turn them in for the money,” he told the city’s Fox affiliate.

    Noooezz! Ur jerbz!

    Seriously, shouldn’t these people get paid a living wage?

    1. “Savanah Alderman Julian Morris claims that the bill?by encouraging stores to offer cash returns in exchange for returned carts?would create jobs in the community. “If it’s $1 to return a cart, or even fifty cents to return a cart, there are people who would get those carts and turn them in for the money,” he told the city’s Fox affiliate.”

      Tsk, tsk, tsk. It sounds like the Alderman is suggesting something that would clearly violate the minimum wage laws.

      1. How do you figure? Seems to me they could easily make it if you figure their time. Just depends how far away they go for them. Especially the ones who smuggle a train of them around the block to collect the ransom.

  5. Charging a free sounds like a new and exciting concept!

  6. The City of Savannah, Georgia, wants to crack down on shopping cart theft by punishing the businesses that have their carts stolen.

    First, go after Target, Equinox, and OPM for having their data stolen.

  7. I think a nice high tech looking bomb like object welded into the cart with a display the counts down the distance to a perimeter would go a long way towards eliminating cart theft.

    If it was actually a bomb, problem solved…

    1. If it was actually a bomb, problem solved…

      Rednecks like things that go boom.

      Rednecks would be tying long ropes to the carts, hitching it to their trucks, then dragging them off property just to hear them go boom.

      1. lol

  8. By mandating that businesses invest in additional security for their carts when they otherwise wouldn’t, the City of Savannah would only be piling on a costly regulation that serves the interests of neither businesses or their customers.

    That’s pretty shortsighted, Christian. You’re missing that the interests of the City Council members and the security companies would be served.

  9. As some store do. Charge a refundable deposit.

    1. I saw that at an Aldi store recently. they wanted a quarter to rent a shopping cart (actually to unlock it). I walked out and went shopping at a different store.

      1. That’s not rent, it’s a deposit. You get your quarter back when you return the cart.

  10. Georgia City Wants to Penalize Stores When Their Carts Are Stolen cause stores to no longer provide shopping carts.

    1. That or, like I’ve seen, place barriers to taking carts to the parking lot.

  11. by encouraging

    Is it really “encouraging” when you are holding a gun to someone’s head?

    1. Pour encourager les autres.

  12. “In citizens’ minds, they’re not really stealing it, they’re just borrowing it,” Williams told the local Fox affiliate in November, when the ordinance was first being floated. “They just want to take it home, and they’re just not thinking that they need to take it back.”

    Wow, just fucking wow.

    1. Well, that’s how they think about our tax money so why not? It’s only natural that they figure that citizens too would reason like that. I commend their empathy.

      It’s like those folks protesting the H&M kid. You expect us to believe that was an accident, associating a little black child with a monkey? I mean, how could you not have been thinking that?

      1. Classic Catch 22 there; if you think it you’re racist, and if you don’t think it your’re racist.

        They got it covered no matter what.

    2. In California shopping carts are used by the homeless to cart around their few belongings, or to collect bottles and cans for the deposit, thus helping to clean up city streets. I guess the do-gooders want to make life harder than it already is for the homeless.

  13. You don’t want to know what the proposed penalty for being raped is.

    1. Go ahead; dying to hear this.

  14. by encouraging stores to offer cash returns in exchange for returned carts?would create jobs in the community. “If it’s $1 to return a cart, or even fifty cents to return a cart, there are people who would get those carts and turn them in for the money,” he told the city’s Fox affiliate.

    Or, you know, encourage people to breed cobras to turn in for the bounty.

  15. Is there no limit to how badly people trying to fight homelessness can fuck things up?

  16. It’s like the ordinances fining the landlord for having their bldg. grafittid.

  17. This is brilliant. Think of how many things this could solve. Someone might even think about charging someone for leaving their car locked in their driveway with the engine in. Of course we could go after the thief, but they don’t have money.

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