Is It Illegal To Take a Shopping Cart? (United States)  

Yes. It is illegal to take a shopping cart from its place of business. Shopping carts are provided for shoppers to use in the store while they are doing their shopping.

Listed below are the reasons why taking shopping carts is illegal, and the penalties associated with taking a shopping cart.

Each state has its own penal code section for removing shopping carts from the owner’s property. We will list four states and the penalties they impose.

Is It Illegal To Take a Shopping Cart? (United States)  


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When you remove the shopping carts from the premises, you have committed a misdemeanor.

Some stores will allow shoppers to take the shopping carts to their vehicles to unload their items and leave the shopping carts in the designated spaces provided in the parking lots.

It is at the discretion of the store to allow shoppers to take shopping carts out of the store.

Some retailers even go as far as to add tall bars to their shopping carts to prevent customers from taking them out of the store. This is one way that retailers are fighting back against shopping cart theft.

Can I remove a Shopping Cart From the Premises of a Business?

No. You can not remove a shopping cart that is the sole property of a business or entity without the permission of the owner of the establishment.

Most retailers and businesses have the business name on the side or on the front handle of the shopping carts.

These businesses purchase and register these carts with the proper agency or department, to ensure that if their property is stolen, it can be returned.

Some stores have implemented a new way to keep up with their shopping carts and make it harder for people to steal them.

Customers are charged a small fee, some fees are like 0.25 for the use of the cart. Some customers may not want to pay this fee, and may pass on renting a cart.

What is the Penalty for Taking a Shopping Cart?

While you will not do hard time for stealing a shopping cart, you will be penalized.

It is a criminal offense, and you could be charged with receiving stolen property if you know it is stolen property, as well as theft, if you remove it from the property.

You could be fined or even sentenced to jail.


In Florida, taking a shopping cart is a misdemeanor of the first degree, and any person found guilty can spend up to one year in jail. This is under Section GS. 506.509.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is a third class misdemeanor to remove a shopping cart off the premises without permission from the owner or employee. Section 14-72.3.

New York

GBS § 399-q. According to the section of the law, it is illegal in New York to steal shopping carts or remove them from their rightful destination. Problems have arisen where people are stealing shopping carts and abandoning them when they are no longer in need of them.

Washington DC

In Washington DC, the removal or theft of a shopping cart is a misdemeanor under RWC 9A.56.270 Section (2): Shopping cart theft


In Ohio, anyone who removes a shopping cart from its premises without permission commits a first degree misdemeanor which carries a penalty of up to six months in jail, according to Ordiance 541.31 Removal and abandonment of Shopping Carts

Do Shopping Carts Have Trackers?

Many retailers opt for trackers so they can keep up with their inventory of shopping carts.

For each shopping cart that is taken, stores lose money, because they have to replace them.

For this reason, some stores have put GPS devices in their shopping carts, and they know what items are in the cart.

This might be an invasion of one’s privacy, but taking something that does not belong to you is just as wrong.

Ways Retailers Use to Prevent Shopping Cart Theft?

Nowadays, stores have found a way to keep with not only their shopping carts, but with the way customers shop.

The tracking device inside shopping carts tells a full story of shoppers’ shopping habits.

It also shows the current and past history of where the shopping cart is and where it has been.

If it is stolen, it will also reveal its location.

Owners and law enforcement can locate a stolen shopping cart, retrieve it and take it back to its owner.

Another feature that helps owners prevent theft of their shopping carts is the lock wheel feature.

If anyone attempts to remove a shopping cart from the parking lot, the wheels will instantly lock up, and the customer will not be able to move the cart.

There is a mechanism inside the cart that only allows that cart to go so far outside of the store. Normally, this is within so many feet of the parking lot’s perimeter.

Once that perimeter is reached, the shopping cart stops automatically.

The person who comes out to collect the shopping carts has a device that allows them to unlock the wheels on the cart, so they can return them to the store.


The only way to avoid being penalized is to not take the shopping cart without getting permission from the retailer.

If the owner allows you to take the cart for a short while to unload your items, you are responsible for bringing them back inside the store.

If you leave it outside and someone takes it, you can still be held accountable, because you did not personally take it back inside.

When you took the shopping cart, you assumed full responsibility for its safe return, and in this regard, you would have failed to return it to its original spot.

Wrap Up

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Is It Illegal To Take a Shopping Cart