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Stealing a shopping cart is a crime

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Criminal defense

You might not think much about the shopping carts you use while shopping at a supermarket, but they’re incredibly useful. They help you transport even the heaviest goods and allow you to purchase more items than had you used a shopping bag or basket.

But because these carts are so useful, they’re popular targets for theft. A study estimated that shopping cart theft costs stores worldwide $800 million each year.

Stealing a shopping cart in Georgia is a punishable crime. If you’re caught trying to take a cart off a store’s premises, you face a conviction that carries a heavy fine and jail time that are worth more trouble than the cart’s total cost.

State law on shopping cart theft

Under Georgia law, it’s unlawful for anyone to remove a shopping cart from a store’s premises without the store owner’s consent. The law also clearly defines a store’s premises, which includes the store’s parking area. So, you’re still allowed to take the cart with the goods you’ve purchased back to your car, but you can’t take it home.

Given these rules and definitions, you might still be charged with theft if you accidentally take a shopping cart off the parking area.

Penalties for shopping cart theft

If you’re charged with shopping cart theft, it could lead to a misdemeanor conviction. While not as heavy as the penalties for felony crimes, a misdemeanor conviction leads to a maximum $1,000 fine and up to 12 months of jail or correctional institution time.

A conviction also leaves you with a criminal record, complicating your future education, employment and financing opportunities.

Stealing in general is a crime

Whether it’s a shopping cart or an unpaid item from a store, stealing is unlawful. You could also face charges, no matter the reasons – whether you thought it would be a great prank or accidentally took the cart off the parking lot. Consider your legal options if you face charges, because a misdemeanor conviction on record is still a criminal record.