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As Madras looks at new rules, fines to curb shopping cart thefts, misuse, what do Bend, other places do?

(Update: adding video, comments by Bend Police, Newport Avenue Market )

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The City of Madras said this week it's concerned about "the impact of shopping carts being removed from premises and misused by individuals, leading to various challenges for our community including the well-being and safety of our community members." It will host an open house next Monday on proposed regulations requiring stores to keep them on-site.

It's an issue around Oregon and the nation as well. There is no statewide mandate for cities to have an ordinance covering cart theft, but places like Madras are considering it.

For the city of Bend, shopping cart theft is a limited issue.

"It's something we don't get a lot of reports about," Bend Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller said Friday.

Theft of shopping carts in Bend is not nearly as rampant here in Bend as it is in other cities.

In Oregon, cities are not obligated to create a shopping cart theft ordinance. However, cities that have shopping cart ordinances in the state of Oregon are required by the state to include some additional rules. Those regulations include signage on the carts informing the public that shopping cart theft is a crime. Carts must also include a business logo and a toll-free number to report lost or stolen carts.

Newport Avenue Market Chief Operations Officer Joe Anzaldo said, "Our carts are probably around $200. It can be higher or lower, but it's several hundred dollars, so you know, do the math. You lose 20 carts, you've got a big problem."

Anzaldo used to work for a large grocery chain and says the problem was more prevalent there.

"That was an issue, a constant one of trying to keep the carts in the parking lot," he recalled.

In Bend, if your caught stealing shopping carts, individuals can face a theft charge and could be fined the cost of the cart.

Speaking about the consequences, Miller said, "If we could prove that you had stolen the cart from a particular store and the store was willing to be a victim, it would be a charge of theft. Theft comes in different levels, depending on the cost" of what was stolen.

A CNN story on KTVZ.COM just over a year ago noted that cities around the country have spent tens of thousands of dollars collecting thousands of wayward shopping carts that cause blight and frustrate local officials and retailers. US retailers lose an estimated tens of millions of dollars a year replacing lost and damaged carts.

Last June, when Coos Bay city councilors weighed enacting a shopping cart ordinance, The World newspaper noted there is no statewide statute requiring local governments to have ordinances addressing abandoned shopping carts.

However, the newspaper also noted that a state statute allows such ordinances, while requiring signs be posted for the public, a toll-free number available to report stolen carts and other specifics. It reported that several Oregon cities have shopping cart regulations rules in place, including the Portland area, coastal cities and many others west of the Cascades.

Here's this week's announcement, from Community Development Director Nicholas Snead:

"We understand that managing shopping carts can pose logistical challenges for local retailers, but it is crucial that we work together to minimize unintended impacts to the community. By keeping shopping carts on premises, we can minimize the risk of them being misused and mitigate the associated problems for our community.

"These regulations would also entail retailers being fined for non-compliance. Shopping cart management is an issue that affects not only individual businesses but also residents and the overall aesthetics and functionality of our community.

"In November of 2023, the City contacted each retailer and communicated the problem and requested changes to their operations to ensure shopping carts remain on premises. After several months of not seeing significant changes, the City is considering implementing regulations that would mandate businesses to retain their shopping carts on premises.

"City staff initially raised the issue to the Madras Homeless Advisory Committee at their December 2023 and January 2024 meetings. At the January 22, 2024, Homeless Advisory Committee meeting, the committee took formal action to make a recommendation to the City Council to approve the proposed shopping cart regulations. (The draft regulations are included in that meeting's agenda packet.)

"The City believes it is crucial that the City provide an opportunity for stakeholders to have the chance to contribute to the conversation before the City Council considers establishing these regulations.

"The City of Madras is hosting an Open House at City Hall in the City Council Chambers located at 125 SW “E” Street, Madras, OR 97741 on Monday, February 26, from 2:00-3:30 PM to discuss the proposed shopping cart regulations.

"The purpose of this gathering is to provide an opportunity for stakeholders, including local business owners, to learn, voice their opinions, concerns, and suggestions regarding the proposed regulations. The Open House will include presentations by city staff, as well as opportunities for attendees to ask questions and share their perspectives."

Here's a Word .doc of the draft regulations.

Article Topic Follows: Crime And Courts

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Matthew Draxton

Matthew Draxton is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Matthew here.


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