Independence approves abandoned shopping cart crackdown

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Independence, Missouri leaders passed an ordinance Monday night cracking down on what they call “a major concern” for the city, shopping carts littering the streets and sidewalks.

Now business owners will have to submit a an abandoned shopping cart prevention and retrieval plan as part of their yearly permits.

Drive through Independence and those abandoned and stolen shopping carts aren’t that hard to find.

“It seems a lot in Independence that people are taking the shopping carts you see them going down the street and they got all there little goodies in there,” shopper Collette Bierig said.

For at least a year Independence city leaders have been trying to find a solution to what the ordinance calls a public nuisance and potential hazard to the health, safety and welfare of the public.

“One of the things we notice in our commercial corridors especially and even in our neighborhoods is the number of shopping carts that leave the premises and end up in places where they shouldn’t be,” Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said.

So now business owners will be required to submit plans on how to prevent shopping carts from being stolen and how to retrieve them if they are. Some Independence stores require a quarter deposit to get carts, hoping to deter theft.

“It doesn’t bother me I’d rather pay to have a cart than go chase one down,” Bierig said outside Save A Lot.

Weir said stores could also install wheel lock systems preventing them from leaving the property, though she acknowledges it comes with a cost. But so will losing a cart, as now stores can be charged abatement fees for every cart city crews have to track down and return.

“We feel like its an expense to the store if they are losing their inventory and it certainly has a negative image to the city when you are driving down the road and you see shopping carts left in the public right of way,” Weir said.

The ordinance passed by a 6-1 margin also reinforces the idea stealing a shopping cart is a crime and the city will prosecute.

Independence leaders aren’t aware of any cities in the metro with similar laws but said it did mirror it’s new ordinance after some other communities around the nation.

“I think it will be a big step and we’ll see if it has a big impact and if it does maybe some other areas around Independence will consider adopting similar ordinances,” Weir said.

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