City cracks down on shopping cart theft

Shopping cart theft is about to get a lot harder for residents in Rutland. It will also put more pressure on businesses to contain their property to their grounds in Rutland.

In essence, there is a penalty imposed on both those people who are illegally taking the shopping carts and merchants that have not taken action to defend their interest in their property.

The Rutland Alderman's Charter and Ordinance Committee has approved an ordinance that will tackle a problem long been described as affliction in neighborhoods where carts were left grouped or overturned on city sidewalks and abandoned in front of homes.

The stores continue to retrieve carts whenever alerted to a problem by citizens and make biweekly pickups to the areas of Rutland that are frequent locations for stolen carts to be located.

The ordinance, a hybrid of statutes in Rome, N.Y., and Worcester, Mass., was crafted by City Attorney Andrew Costello to help to make the theft of shopping carts punishable on multiple aspects.

The aldermen were in support that, if passed, is something the police should enforce.

First, if approved, the ordinance will make removing shopping carts from a business premises a civil offense that carries a ticket and a $50 fine.

So what does that mean for those individuals who are seen taking a shopping cart out of the Rutland Shopping Plaza, passing by a sign reading "Attention Shoppers. Please do not remove carts from store premises." You may be fined $50 for stealing.

Second, the law will also define abandoned carts as a public nuisance and grant the city authority to impound any found off premises. Carts that remain unclaimed at the end of each month will be disposed of by the city, which will most likely sell them as scrap.

Stores that reclaim their abandoned carts will face a $50 impound fee per cart, unless that store has taken measures to try to prevent their carts from being stolen. (For example; Walmart and Price Chopper installed wheel-locking devices as one such anti-theft device.)

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