Tired of abandoned shopping carts? Bill would require Northern Va. stores to collect them

If you go to a grocery store, chances are you toss your items in a shopping cart, but what’s convenient at the store is becoming a nuisance in Northern Virginia.

After repeated complaints of abandoned shopping carts in Fairfax and Arlington counties, and the city of Alexandria, state Sens. Scott Surovell and Adam Ebbin have introduced a bill — SB631 — to deal with the problem.

Currently, Virginia and Maryland have laws on the books that make it a misdemeanor for someone to take a wheeled cart off the property of a business, but those laws are rarely enforced.

If passed, this would be the first bill that would make the business responsible for where its carts end up. Surovell previously tried to implement a similar bill in 2013, without success.

Under the current bill, the county would notify a business of the location of an abandoned cart. The bill would require the store to retrieve it from the creekbed, sidewalk or wherever it was discarded, or else be billed if the county is required to dispose of it.

Opponents of the bill ask why the stores should be financially responsible, since the abandoned carts are property that has been stolen from them.

The new bill would specify that any person who has a shopping cart away from the business’ premises could be subject to a civil fine up to $500.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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