Although shops may think they are saving money by ditching staff in favor of automated systems, in fact, the amount of money lost through theft rockets has increased after the introduction of self-checkouts. Criminologists warn that self-service checkouts has turned honest shoppers into thieves.
Criminologists found that the cost of stolen items more than doubles after the introduction of self-scanning. However, it is not just criminals taking advantage of the lax security. The report found that people who are usually honest resort to theft simply because they can, and do not feel it is as wrong when there is no human interaction.
The frustrations many people feel at the self-service till may also lead shoppers to feel justified in stealing while technology gives offenders ‘ready-made excuses’ for failing to scan items. Self-checkouts were found to provoke aggressive behavior particularly when products would not scan correctly, or when staff had to intervene to correct the mistakes or check age verification.
Shoppers who steal groceries by not scanning them at supermarket self-service checkouts are called ‘swipers’. The swiper is a new breed of shoplifter, they’re not the typical thieves of the past who were targeting high-value fast-moving items, like batteries and razor blades, these shoppers are about manipulating the machine. They are more likely to scan the vine tomatoes as loose tomatoes and they are not interested about putting things down their pants, in their pockets and jackets.
Recently, a Rhode Island couple were caught on video stealing from the self-checkout in a Walmart supermarket. The couple was pretending to scan items and then placing them in a check out bag.
The couple filming the video presented the video to a Walmart employee who stopped them at the door and asked for a receipt. Of course the receipt didn’t show all the items that were in their cart and the thieving couple were asked to go to customer service.