Legislator Goes After Shopping Cart Scofflaws

A bill is proposed on behalf of the Montgomery Village Foundation.

Capital News Service

Along with high-profile legislation that would repeal the death penalty and strengthen gun control, Maryland’s General Assembly is considering making it more expensive for people caught stealing shopping carts.

The bill would increase the fine from $25 to $100.

It came about when the Montgomery Village Foundation, which represents more than 45,000 residents, asked Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Dist. 39) of Germantown, to do something about the number of shopping carts that were being taken from nearby stores and left strewn throughout the community.

The current law, which was enacted in 1957, requires store owners to post a sign at each exit informing shoppers that there is a $25 fine for taking a shopping cart off store premises without permission.

“Regretfully, theft of our shopping carts is a reality and this would help us a great deal,” said lobbyist Bruce Bereano, who testified on behalf of Safeway Food & Drug. “We have to have a sign up there, and having a new sign saying $100 rather than $25 would hopefully help to be a deterrent.”

Despite the reports of stolen and abandoned carts, a legislative analysis showed there were no cases of shopping cart theft prosecuted in District Court last year.

When the House Judiciary Committee heard the bill Tuesday, there were questions about why the law was on the books in the first place, since the theft of other types of property valued under $1,000 is already punishable by a higher fine.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to just repeal the statute?” said Del. Luiz R. S. Simmons (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville. “Why treat the theft of a cart differently? They’re not having the full extent of the law.”

If the shopping cart statute were repealed, theft of a shopping cart would be included under the state code’s general provision for theft of property. Stealing property valued at less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor with maximum penalties of up to 18 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $500.

It costs merchants between $100-$300 to replace each shopping cart, Reznik said.

He didn’t seek to repeal the provision because he said he didn’t think the committee would favor increasing the fine from $25 to up to $500.

“Generally speaking, when you ask for an increase in fines, it is not received well, so you want to take things more piecemeal,” Reznik said. “If the committee is more amenable to a repeal and making it fall under the general theft statute, I’m all for it.”

The bill is cross-filed in the Senate, and the Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled to hear SB 191 at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

rick weatherholt February 03, 2013 at 07:42 PM
theres a solution to th prolem theres a wheel lock that will lock the back wheels when you take the cart to far frpm the store it can be instaled on most carts for about $30.00 a cart it works on a rado singinal comeing from the store to lock on the wheel intercity stores use them alot rick
Parkvillehoney February 04, 2013 at 03:16 AM
Safeway on 33rd St in Baltimore City has the wheel locks and it works. You can take the cart as far as the end of the parking lot and the wheels lock up. Great idea.
s stewart February 04, 2013 at 02:47 PM
A few years ago i remember the shopping carts at the Shopper's in New Carrollton had the wheel locks. I remember one woman trying to take a cart of groceries across the street to the apartment building. She was steadily cursing as she could only push it around in circles at the edge of the parking lot. Decades ago in Chicago, I would pay a $5.00 deposit for a cart and get it back when i returned it.
george February 04, 2013 at 09:09 PM
If you install railings to prohibit carts from leaving the store, you comprimise access to the store with wheelchairs. An ADA compliance issue that store operators struggle with. The cart lock systems cost $40 per cart + about $25K for the electronics
DougW February 04, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Other Tim, I agree that the first place should be to arrest the shopper, but from the story, that does not occur. And you think that the store does not pass along the $70 each cart that never comes back costs? Cost of doing business. I agree that the wheel locks are a good idea. I think though, that the $25 fine to shoppers should have been enforced. If that's not enforced, it's asinine to raise it to a $100 fine that will not be enforced.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »