Is not returning trolley considered theft?

Retailers reserve right to file police report; the authorities will decide if crime committed

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

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

Reporter Melissa Lin replies.

Trolleys are the property 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.

Trolleys found abandoned near a block in Jurong West. Last month, "trolley enforcement officers" were introduced by FairPrice at Jurong Point. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A spokesman for FairPrice said the supermarket chain has been working closely with the police, leading to police warnings being issued to errant trolley users.

Education is still key, said retailers. Early last month, FairPrice piloted an initiative at Jurong Point, where it got "trolley enforcement officers" to educate people about returning trolleys.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'Is not returning trolley considered theft?'. Print Edition | Subscribe