askST: Why isn't trolley abandonment considered theft?

With numerous incidents of grocery shoppers pushing trolleys out of the stores and discarding them near their homes, one reader asked whether such acts can be considered theft.

Are there relevant laws that can be enforced against these shoppers and what is stopping grocery vendors from taking steps, especially as such incidents still happen despite moves to educate consumers?

Reporter Melissa Lin replies:

Trolleys are the properties of the supermarkets and retailers reserve the right to file a police report should they be misused or stolen.

However, the circumstances behind trolley abandonment may differ from case to case, and whether a crime has been committed will be determined by the authorities.

A spokesman for NTUC FairPrice said the supermarket chain has been working closely with the police on this matter, which has resulted in police warnings being issued to errant trolley users.

Education is still key, said retailers.

FairPrice in early September piloted a new initiative at Jurong Point, where it got "trolley enforcement officers" to educate people about returning trolleys by talking to them or handing them leaflets.

It has since observed "a significant decrease of over 80 per cent" in trolley abandonment cases around its FairPrice and FairPrice Xtra outlets in the mall.

More askST stories here.