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Ogden City Council considers ordinance to combat abandoned shopping carts

By Deborah Wilber - | Dec 7, 2022
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Abandoned shopping carts litter a bus stop near Walmart in Harrisville on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. Signage warning shoppers of unlawful removal of carts is posted before leaving the parking lot.
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An abandoned shopping cart is pictured near 21st Street in Ogden on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

OGDEN — An increase in abandoned shopping carts strewn throughout Ogden has brought the Code Services Division before the City Council with a request to adopt an ordinance authorizing the city to take action on cart theft.

Code Services recently reached out to store managers of local retailers with shopping carts for one-on-one discussions about the challenges in unlawful removal of carts and processes of retrieving them.

According to Ogden City Building Services Manager Jared Johnson, retailers expressed gratitude for the city’s attempt in helping them combat the growing issue.

Retailers said the theft of shopping carts is detrimental to business, with each one costing anywhere between $500 to $1,000, and no matter their condition stores want them back due to corporate store credit when purchasing new ones.

If, however, stores opt not to have shopping carts returned to them, the proposed ordinance allows the city to retrieve them and dispose of them.

The proposed ordinance allows the city to take shopping carts found in the public right of way throughout the city as well as a private front lawn of a residence. A cart in a backyard or garage of a residence, however, would have to be retrieved with a request for removal.

People without homes who use shopping carts to transport belongings would be handled in a more delicate manner, Johnson said.

A homeless advocate would be present in such situations, he said, so as to find some other way to accommodate them.

“We’re definitely not just going to run out there and push it over and throw their stuff out and take the cart,” Johnson said.

Although the ordinance would allow the city to recover any unlawfully obtained property, Johnson said it would depend on the circumstance because most of the shopping carts they come across are vacant and abandoned.

According to Johnson, stores indicated that they do not sell or convey any shopping carts to the public and they are solely for use while shopping.

City Councilwoman Angela Choberka said she believes the practice of removing carts from store properties is done out of necessity following a trip to the store rather than malicious intent.

When it comes to the common practice of using a cart to transport purchased groceries from the cart-owning store to a residence, Johnson said some stores in Ogden have hired companies specifically geared toward driving around and retrieving them.

Yet one of the biggest retailers whose carts are found abandoned most reportedly does not employ such services.

According to Johnson, the Walmart located within Ogden city limits on Wall Avenue was far more amenable to the ordinance than locations in neighboring cities, even though carts from other locations have been located within the city.

Properly identifying shopping carts with durable signage and implementing preventable measures provided by the city are among items for which shopping cart owners will be responsible under the proposed ordinance.

Retailers notified of shopping carts picked up by the city will have 30 days to respond under the proposed ordinance. If stores fail to do so within the allotted time frame, the city will have the authority to destroy them.

Johnson said the carts most likely would be given to a local recycler and any profit, no matter how small, would go back to the city to offset money used in enforcing the ordinance.

“We already pick them up right now, like, every day,” Johnson said.

In addition to picking up shopping carts while conducting other business, Code Services employees spend Friday mornings driving to known locations where carts tend to accumulate to pick them up on a flatbed trailer.

There is no timeline yet on the adoption or implementation of the proposed shopping cart ordinance.

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