Is it illegal to take a shopping cart?

It is not uncommon to see a shopping cart on the side of the road, in a park, or on a public right of way. It did not get there by accident. A common question is whether removing a shopping cart from a store or the parking lot of origin is a crime. We asked the criminal defense attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno.

The answer is that “Shopping Cart Theft” is a misdemeanor offense in the following circumstance.

According to RCW 9A.56.270,

(1) It is unlawful to do any of the following acts, if a shopping cart has a permanently affixed sign as provided in subsection (2) of this section:

(a) To remove a shopping cart from the parking area of a retail establishment with the intent to deprive the owner of the shopping cart the use of the cart; or

(b) To be in possession of any shopping cart that has been removed from the parking area of a retail establishment with the intent to deprive the owner of the shopping cart the use of the cart.

(2) This section shall apply only when a shopping cart:

(a) Has a sign permanently affixed to it that identifies the owner of the cart or the retailer, or both;

(b) notifies the public of the procedure to be utilized for authorized removal of the cart from the premises;

(c) notifies the public that the unauthorized removal of the cart from the premises or parking area of the retail establishment, or the unauthorized possession of the cart, is unlawful; and

(d) lists a telephone number or address for returning carts removed from the premises or parking area to the owner or retailer.

(3) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Centralia and Olympia Attorneys

For a consultation with our Althauser Rayan Abbarno attorneys in Olympia or Centralia, call (360) 736-1301 or visit CentraliaLaw.com