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Hey, Matt!

Someone in our apartment complex is slowly amassing a collection (five so far) of shopping carts out front near the street. Yes, true, it's unsightly, but this person has no car and needs to get their groceries home somehow. Is it really illegal to remove a shopping cart from a grocery store's parking lot? Can someone get busted for it?

-- Steve Terry, La Mesa

Theft of a shopping cart is only a misdemeanor. You can get a ticket for it, but nobody at the cop shop remembers anybody doing hard time. We can assume the police have bigger felonious fish to fry, and it's left to us to do the courteous thing and return the carts without being threatened by the law. But I guess that's why we have so many laws -- courtesy is for squares. I can sympathize with your carless neighbors, but if they're capable of pushing a full cart from the store to home, why are they incapable of pushing an empty cart from home to the store? Or, because you seem to be the only one worrying about it, maybe you could pitch in. Buy a six-pack, invite four friends to help return the carts, then sit back and savor the brew as a reward for your community-service efforts. Sorry. I seem to have mutated into Miss Manners.

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