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Shopping Cart Theft (CA Business and Professions Code 22435, et seq)

Shopping cart

Driving around as I do, I can’t help but notice an increasing number of abandoned shopping carts lying around my neighborhood. My best guess is that people who don’t drive to stores are taking the shopping carts in order to avoid having to carry their heavy bags to their home, to the bus stop, etc.

I find this interesting because California law makes removal of a shopping cart in this way from the premises of the store a misdemeanor. Specifically, it’s California Business and Professions Code sections 22435 and 22435.1 through 22435.8. There are two caveats to this.

The first is that the prohibitions on shopping cart removal under Business and Professions Code sections 22435, et seq only apply if a sign like the one pictured above is affixed to the cart informing users of the laws against removal of said cart. (B&P section 22435.1). The second caveat is that, per B&P section 22435.2, you’re only guilty of a misdemeanor if you remove the cart “with┬áthe intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner or retailer of possession of the cart.” The result is that the mere fact you’ve removed the cart is not enough to make you guilty. You have to remove the cart with a specific intent to deprive the owner of possession, either temporarily or permanently. In other words, guilt comes from proving two elements (removal and intent) as opposed to just removal.

Whether intent can or cannot be proven depends, like everything in the law it seems, on the circumstances of the case.

In the meantime, I try to corral shopping carts I see in my neighborhood and walk them back to the store they came from, if for no other reason than to remove an eyesore.

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.


  1. So in Santa Maria California cvs drug store got a letter telling them that they will be fined if any shopping carts are found on the streets . but when a police officer sees a homeless person with one they do nothing . just lazy I guess

    • What someone was walking up to carts filled with homeless things and gave them a car or cash to support them. Recently manly men are made homeless and need means rot regain rentals. To regain life. Suggested by perhaps sheriff who claim they could take over. Did. Instead of allowing citizens to come back up to speed. We don’t need unemployment or some government fund to pay your rent. This might have been police raise in salary. What response of a judge that stores have Mark shopping carts as valuables.

      We leave our. Valuables out but we are not a business. These are commerce based laws that say police luitent girlfriends thrive on as they make you homeless they watch carts and attach this to themselves

  2. It is an eyesore. They pile up in the complex I live in. What can be done about this!


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