Over the last decade, consumers have witnessed the growing trend of self-checkout terminals in retail locations. Grocery stores, department stores and big box retailers have all experimented with self-checkout to reduce labor costs and improve customer flow through the store. Unfortunately, with any new technology, there is an opportunity for fraud as individuals test the limitations of the system.
It is not uncommon for shoppers to switch tags, intentionally ring up an item as a different item or simply not scan a product. Many retail locations have stationed a cashier to oversee a bank of self-checkout lanes or have installed cameras and large display monitors to show shoppers they are being recorded. This has not eradicated the issue. In one anonymous survey, nearly 20% of the respondents admitted to having stolen at the self-checkout terminal in the past.
In one highly publicized report, researchers at the University of Leicester audited one million self-checkout transactions, totaling $21 million in sales, and found that nearly $850,000 worth of products left the store without being scanned and purchased. Many respondents in an anonymous survey stated their rationalization for self-checkout shoplifting lay in the fact that the store itself is receiving free labor from their customers – who deserve a discount for their work.
Often, people equate theft crimes with minor consequences, but shoplifting can lead to fines, community service or jail time. A conviction can lead to a mark against a permanent record – which can have devastating repercussions in the future. A criminal record could directly impact job opportunities, housing opportunities or educational opportunities. If you face shoplifting or other theft crimes charges, it is wise to seek the guidance of a skilled criminal defense attorney.