A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On shopping carts, Albany tries again

Written March 5th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

An abandoned shopping cart lies in Periwinkle Creek. The photo was shot in May 2020.

It was 13 years ago that Albany passed a law to get rid of abandoned shopping carts. It hasn’t worked. And now the city council is poised to try again.

At its meetings on Monday afternoon and Wednesday night, the city council will be asked to consider and pass changes in the shopping cart law it adopted in May 2008.

Among other things, the proposal would require stores that offer their customers carts to post signs that taking a cart off the premises is a crime under Oregon law. Stores would also have to “establish and maintain a shopping cart retrieval group.” And they would have to pick up abandoned carts within 72 hours after being notified.

Cart owners could be fined $50 if they fail to retrieve a cart. The 2008 law has the same fine, but if it’s ever been imposed it hasn’t been reported.

Shopping carts being dumped or just left on the curb are a common sight.

The police department’s community service officers do what they can. I asked Holly Roten at City Hall to summarize one recent action:

“On February 10,” she reported, “the Albany Police Department did a shopping cart push leading up to a possible code change.  APD recovered over 40 shopping carts throughout the city, in a couple of hours, and many of those carts were in waterways.  APD has even purchased grappling hooks to pull them out of waterways.

“(Community Service Officer) Darla Luther has been working on shopping carts for the past six weeks or more trying to get stores to participate in removing the blight with minimal successes. APD is continuing to make these pushes until stores are taking responsibility for recovery.”

Under existing law, the city has to store any unidentifiable carts it salvages for 30 days, which adds to the workload and the need for storage. The amendment would allow such carts to be disposed of right away.

In a memo, Code Compliance Officer Kris Schendel told the council: “As part of the city’s continuous efforts to maintain clean neighborhoods, staff seeks to ensure that the process for dealing with abandoned shopping carts is timely and efficient.”

The proposed code changes are intended to achieve that. We’ll see in due time whether they work. (hh)


15 responses to “On shopping carts, Albany tries again”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    As long as they don’t arrest people for stealing carts, they have no incentive to quit.

    This is just another way the city wants to gather revenue for its failure to enforce theft laws. Charge the stores who then pass the cost on to the consumer.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Punish the victim, a store owner, for having their shopping carts stolen?

    Perhaps the council should instead pass an ordinance that a crime victim has a right not to be prosecuted for being a crime victim.

    Can a suspect be a victim concurrently under the law?

  3. David Smith says:

    It is good to know the APD retrieves these carts, i had no idea this was the case. On my walks, i occasionally come across abandoned shopping carts on the sidewalks or in common areas near the Expo Center/Linn Park. Some have identifying information, some don’t. I walked by one Winco cart for a month that had been abandoned on a sidewalk in a residential area. I finally called Winco up to tell them about it and the cart’s location. The person I reached didn’t seem to have a clue how it should be handled. I do recall the employee said they wouldn’t pick up anything more than a few blocks or so away. My general impression from our conversation was that they were reluctant to pick it up unless it was in the immediate vicinity. (Gosh, aren’t those things expensive?) Finally another couple of weeks passed and the cart disappeared. All’s well, that end’s well, I guess.

  4. Jacob Jacobson says:

    The Albany PD has enough staff, enough time and enough energy to police stolen shopping carts, yet the streets in the city are crumbling and the schools are aging and the homeless population is burgeoning? This could be one area where de-funding the police and redirecting the monies saved to address more crucial issues. Either that, or the Council could Cancel Culture shopping carts out of existence. In the pantheon of issue-importance, the shopping cart dilemma seems to absorb far more dollars and far to much time, particularly in light of more pressing matters.

  5. Jack McCann says:

    Why is there a law on the books to punish store owners anyway. Why not punish the offenders. The people that are removing the carts. Almost like why is a gun manufacturer punished for the actions of a person. When a person shoots somebody, the punish the manufacturer of the gun. Common sense continues to be left at the wayside. Hold those that do the crime accountable. Plain and simple

  6. Lynn M says:

    So the store owners are victims twice – once for the theft of their carts and then again paying fines for t e property they had stolen? How is the fair and just?
    Since most of these abandoned carts are usually not in condition to be put back into service in the stores how about working out a deal with a scrap metal buyer? The police could notify them of the locations and the scrap metal buyer could properly dispose of the carts.

  7. BILL KNAUSS says:




  8. Delfina H Hoxie says:

    In larger cities the stores buy carts with stops on them. The wheels freeze-up when someone tries to take it from the parking lot. Easy-peazy.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      Exactly. Easier to demand stores to do this than spending money and resources finding these petty offenders: teenagers, the poor that don’t own a car or homeless people. Always try to find the root of the problem.

  9. thomas earl cordier says:

    Seems like the question of who takes carts far from stores never gets asked. Who requests water ways. The indigent, homeless, addicted who camp in the swales and don’t want to conform to reasonable behavior. Don’t punish stores for those actions

    • Kelly Maag says:

      I see more people who have apartments pushing carts down the road home than the homeless. I also have seen homeless people push carts back to the stores to try to clean up where they are having to live right now. People need to quit throwing blame on a select group of people and open their eyes up. Most homeless have bikes they ride with carts that kids usually ride in attached to them to carry their stuff. If you are going to blame one group for it than blame every group for it because we have had parents leave carts in our yard after pushing kids and groceries home in it and we have to take them back to the store themn because they figure it is not their problem and not at their place. I have seen kids with carts racing friends down roads and then leaving them wherever when they get bored with it. Homeless people are still people and still deserve respect if they are not doing anything wrong but people like you want to just accuse them of anything that is wrong in this city. Maybe if you got blamed constantly you would then not be so ignorant with your comments on issues that is being talked about and help find a solution to it instead of just complain and blame.

  10. TOPTBOSS says:

    Along and in the water of Periwinkle Creek, there are Always a lot of carts. There are good people that retrieve them although they are put back in due to (the majority of kids) the carts being ‘thrown’ back in. Businesses along the creek have taken the carts back to the stores after they refuse to pick them up. While returning to the stores, non of them have been grateful. Since the stores will not come pick up and are not grateful or thankful when they are returned, what is the point to being of service? There are solutions and it’s time the stores take responsibility and action. Cart stops and even carts with coin release/return.

  11. Cheryl P says:

    Here’s an idea: Get a truck. Hitch a semi-enclosed trailer to it. Have a few of those orange safety cones, some rope and some hooks. Then a couple of folks drive around and pick up the carts and return them to the store for $50 each.

    I knew a couple guys in Phoenix (Arizona) that used to do this (it was $25 a cart back in those days). It started as a way to make extra money, but by the end of the year it was a regular business with a dozen trucks. The majority of their carts were found in apartment complexes about a mile from the stores.

  12. George Pugh says:

    It really seems wrong to fine stores for not retrieving their stolen shopping carts. I would think that they could be sold in a government surplus auctions once a year or so. If the stores were aware that there was a collection of carts the onus would be on the stores to retrieve or give up ownership of stolen carts.
    Googling shopping carts I came up with values from $90 to $160 a piece. I am sure there are quantity discounts for Kroger, etc. Scrap metal prices are around 5 cents a pound and the carts are less than 100 lbs., that would be after compressing them for handling efficiencies. Their “junk” value is nil. If a private party wished to start a “retrieval” service, a $25 price would be reasonable. I would want a contract with the large stores for the return of their carts.
    So, then you get to “Would that encourage theft?”
    I don’t know.

  13. Mr Patrick Henry says:

    why not make it a 900 dollar fine for possessing a shopping cart that is not yours….


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