Editorial – Of course, you should return the shopping cart

Mac Olsen

The ‘nanny state’ should not be required when it comes to returning a shopping cart to its rightful owner, or better yet, the user shouldn’t be taking it off the retailer’s property in the first place.

The title of a National Post commentary on this issue asks, ‘Why it’s (basically) legal to steal shopping carts’. You can find the video at nationalpost.com. The commentary says, when a shopping cart is stolen, which costs between $200 and $400, it isn’t necessarily in the owner’s interest to pursue prosecution, due to the amount of time and money required.

Further, it is often the homeless who take possession of shopping carts, and targeting them with criminal charges would be unconscionable and it would also outrage antipoverty groups.

That’s fair enough; the homeless struggle with day-to-day life and charging them with shopping cart theft would be morally reprehensible. But someone else who ‘borrows’ a shopping cart and doesn’t return it out of laziness or indifference should be frowned upon and held to account.

On the other hand, it’s understandable that people take their merchandise home in a shopping cart if it is too heavy to carry. Still, abandoning it on the sidewalk with complete disregard for the fact that it is someone else’s property, is shameful.

One other recommendation should be offered: return the cart inside the store or to an outside collection point. It’s very irritating when someone abandons a cart in the parking lot and prevents other shoppers from parking in that spot. That, too, is just laziness on the user’s part and should be frowned upon.

The National Post commentary also highlights the issue that when someone’s bike is stolen, they are supposed to take measures to keep that from occurring.

Certainly, I learned the hard way about that in 1991, when I had a bicycle stolen while I was at work. I locked it up, but the thief managed to cut off the lock and take off with my bike. Fortunately, the police were able to recover my bike because I had engraved information on it that the thief wasn’t aware of.

The lesson for me was to use a more sturdy lock, which I applied to a high-end bike that I purchased later. Still, if a determined thief wants your property, they will find the means to get it, no matter what security measures you put in place.

Returning to the subject of the shopping cart, the ‘nanny state’ should not have to intervene and make you do what should be done through decency and common sense – return it to its rightful owner.

But, if required, the law and criminal charges should be implemented so that people understand the consequences of their actions.

Just don’t prosecute and persecute the homeless; they are exempt due to their unfortunate circumstances.


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