Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

February 5, 2013

Think twice

Stealing shopping carts raises costs for everyone

Drive around any Cumberland neighborhood that has a grocery store or dollar store and there is a fair chance you’ll see an abandoned shopping cart that has been stolen.

Apparently some people don’t think running off with a cart is a big deal. But it is, when you consider the replacement costs of the carts and how stolen carts can add to your grocery shopping bill.

Now a bill has been introduced in Annapolis to increase the fine for stealing a cart from $25 to $100. Officials are hoping the heftier fine will make people think twice before stealing a cart.

Capital News Service reports that 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 in Annapolis 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.”

Rather than increase the fine, one lawmaker, Delegate Luiz Simmons, a Montgomery County Democrat, favors abolishing the shopping cart theft law altogether. He said shopping cart thefts should be treated like any other theft and violators should be prosecuted under the property theft laws that can bring fines higher than $100.

Whichever course of action is taken, the law needs to be strengthened. A $25 fine is not enough to deter cart

thieves. Each shopping cart can take up to $300 to replace — and you can bet that the cost is recovered by increasing the price of food we all have to buy at the store.

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