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Let's deem those who wheel off carts as thieves
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Is it just me or does the presence of abandoned shopping carts scattered throughout Ceres scream of a lack of class?

Shopping carts in any place other than a store parking lot it trashes the whole community and speaks to laziness of whoever is doing it. It's just as offensive as graffiti on the side of a building and just as annoying as trash. Why is it allowed to take place?

When corporate decision makers visit Ceres and contemplate on locating here, do you think it makes them wonder when they see such unbecoming sights? Does it put Ceres in a favorable light as a community that is on top of things? Hardly. Instead it looks like nobody cares and that this piggy practice is condoned.

Never fails. Drive down Whitmore Avenue from Eastgate Boulevard to Mitchell and count up to 10 or more shopping carts scattered along the sound wall and on the south side of Whitmore. The residential area behind Cost Less Foods is also replete with carts as apartment dwellers - no doubt without cars - wheel their groceries home but fail to return them. Hardly an isolated case, there are probably hundreds of stolen carts throughout Ceres at any given time.

Yes, I chose the word stolen. It's about time we thought about it in those terms.

The state Business and Professions Code makes it illegal for anyone to wheel a shopping carts from its designated shopping area. The concept at play here is that when you wheel groceries a block or more from the store, you're making the cart unavailable to other customers. Once the groceries are offloaded, the customer almost always fails to return it from where it came.

In some cases, kids who've not been taught any better - or bored out of their minds - are wheeling them down the street as some kind of recreational venture. The carts are often tossed into canals and tipped over in gutters for fun. They get pushed into cars and paint jobs are scratched. Keep in mind that wheeling a cart off of the shopping premises also makes it easier for someone to take it in at night and use it privately in one's backyard. At any rate, taking it from the premises is theft.

Granted, the law is obscure. Police Chief Art deWerk had to research it. Still, in this day and age of police manpower shortages, are police rarely consider it important to cite cart wheelers and stealers.

Perhaps we should change our mindset. I ask, why isn't the grocery cart deemed as important and valuable as a bicycle? After all, carts are as costly as bicycles. We'd arrest a bike thief but give the cart thief a pass.

Jeff, you may be asking, aren't you being a bit harsh? They'll point out the poor and downtrodden have no way of getting their staples home. Most poor people know how to use the bus system or call a friend for a ride. I do have a car but sometimes for the exercise I will walk to the store and come back with two bags of groceries. I wouldn't ever think to wheel a cart to my neighborhood. It's just not right but besides that they make a terrible clatter going down a street without a sidewalk.

So far everyone seems to want to go after the store owner, as if he or she is causing the problem. True, lots of stores are failing to round up carts on a daily basis. Politically they are bound for what store manager is going to have his customer arrested as his cart with $200 in groceries is being pushed down the road? He would become the bad guy. But if the state changed the law and added to the seriousness, the store manager doesn't have to be the bad guy.

Either way the consumer ends up paying for it. Stolen and lost carts are added into the overhead cost of goods. If technology is the answer - such as wheels that lock up when passing the boundary of a parking lot - those expensive gizmos end up jacking up the price of groceries as well.

But something must be done. The problem only will grow worse as the price of gas escalates and people decide to leave the car at home on shopping trips. Meanwhile, the blight of carts is enough to make you pull your hair out.

How do you feel? Let him know at