Mostly, people use them to take their groceries home. Abandoned carts cause big headaches for stores.
"When we find them out in the community, it irritates the community. It costs us money to have to replace those carts," said Matthew Dodson of the California Grocers Association.
Eyewitness News received a number of e-mails from viewers who say stray carts are an eyesore. They make neighborhoods look run down and they can also be dangerous.
"They leave them all over my complex. It's like driving through a slalom having to dodge the carts. They're all over the streets and kids will also play in them. There are times I'm driving down the street and I don't see them until I turn the corner and I have to slam on the brakes," said Hoerber.
Taking a cart from the store is theft. It warns you right on the seat, and some cities have ordinances that require stores to keep track of their carts. But people ignore the law.
"To be realistic, police have more important things to do than tackling people who are taking their groceries home," Dodson admitted.
Some stores install locking devices that stop a cart as it leaves a parking lot, but they're not cheap.
"Unfortunately they're also not 100 percent foolproof. People who really want to take a shopping cart have found ways to get around the technology," said Dodson.
If stray carts are bugging you, there is something you can do. Call the Shopping Cart Retrieval Corporation, which was set up by the Grocers Association. You can let them know 24 hours a day where to find abandoned carts and they'll come to pick them up.
Shopping carts cost approximately $100 each. Getting them back saves all of us money.
"It ultimately costs the customers who come to that grocery store," said Dodson. "It's going to cost everyone."
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