Self-Checkout Criminals On the Rise in 2022

Self-Checkout Criminals On the Rise in 2022

Summary: Self-checkout Kiosks save grocers time and money and give customers more convenience and flexibility. They can also enable customers to steal products, and make it difficult for grocers to manage their finances. Be aware of different methods thieves may use, and take extra security measures with IT Retail to prevent theft. 

Many grocery stores these days have adopted self-checkout stands to help speed up and enhance customers’ shopping experiences. Self-checkout stands certainly benefit customers, but perhaps in ways that are different than the company originally intended.

A new wave of self-checkout theft has been taking place and could be happening right in front of you. Have you ever used the self-checkout and thought to yourself how easy you could trick the system? Well, if you haven’t, someone else has and is now turning those thoughts into a reality.

How Customers Steal with Self-Checkout Kiosks  

Customers enjoy the freedom of going at their own speed when checking out, without a store employee hurrying them through the process, studies find. This love of self-checkout convenience must be balanced with the harsh truth that many people who enter your store have designs to steal products, cutting into the store’s bottom line and increasing prices for honest customers.

Voucher Codes Pro, an Internet coupons company, surveyed 2,634 people. Among this group, 20 percent said they had stolen at the self-checkout line. More than 50 percent of the admitted thieves said they chose to steal because store security was weak.

A 2015 audit of 1 million self-checkout transactions in a year’s period is also eye-opening. Completed by criminologists, the survey found that of $21 million in sales, almost $850,000 of items were never scanned and purchased.

The customers are taking self-checkout stands to a whole new level where tricks such as the “pass around,” the “weight abuse” and “the switcheroo” are being used to steal grocery items. The “pass around” is where the customer takes the item around the scanner without actually scanning the item and places it on the conveyor belt.

“The switcheroo” is when a cheaper item’s sticker is peeled off and placed on top of a sticker on different, more expensive items. Both items must weigh about the same, so it doesn’t alert the scanning system.

The other method is called the “weight abuse” where the customer for instance tricks the scanner by placing an expensive heavy item while using a price code for a much cheaper item in place of the costlier produce. Another name for this maneuver is called the “banana trick.” Just imagine a thief holding up a grouping of bananas near the scanner while passing an expensive ham around and into a shopping bag.

In New Jersey, five men were arrested for using such tricks in multiple grocery thefts but pleaded not guilty. However, a couple of months later prosecutors find that the same men using the methods mentioned earlier to steal $10,000 worth of merchandise from Home Depot.

The Side Effects of Self-Checkout Theft

The beginning release of self-checkout stands for excited customers and continues to satisfy their shopping needs while turning an average grocery day into the ultimate grocery shopping experience. Grocery companies aim to give their customers what they want and need, but once they start taking advantage of such conveniences as stealing at self-checkout stands are where they draw the line. Some security experts say that theft these days is five times more likely to be at self-checkout stands.

Loss prevention calls these thefts “external shrinkage,” though it remains, plain and simple, shoplifting. In addition, it was reported that last year a typical American family must spend an additional $435 due just to the increase in shoplifting. Now grocery stores such as Albertsons are completely taking out self-checkouts to further prevent theft inside their stores while others are deciding to take another route. Back in 2015, some other major grocers were taking out or decreasing self-checkout lanes, and that continues today for some stores in an effort to deter thefts.

The Benefits of Self Checkout

Self-checkouts are a great alternative option other than paying at a standard checkout lane. What are the positives of a self-checkout? First, customers love them. About 47 percent of customers regularly use self-checkout, according to 2019 data. Self-checkout kiosks became a great help during the COVID-19 pandemic. More physical retail stores turned to self-checkout kiosks when they couldn’t have as many team members on staff and had to cut down on human to human contact.

The bonuses for retailers are great, since they reduce labor costs, thanks to fewer checkout clerks. They also free up storage space, to allow the display of more products.

Self-checkouts can be fast and efficient, but some customers have taken that opportunity to steal grocery items instead. To keep these benefits, it’s important to combat the methods thieves use to steal products. 

Next Steps 

Anti-theft software can help with protecting the self-checkout lane, as can adding a staff member to watch the lanes. This presence of a watchful eye can have a greater immediate effect on preventing store losses, rather than the ordeal of viewing camera footage with security after the theft and attempting to catch them.

Self-checkouts lean toward a trust-based system, but now they need extra security is to stop grocery theft altogether. For further information, take a look at this video on self-checkout theft: Supermarket Crime Wave in Self-Checkout Lanes. Also, if you’re interested in knowing more about self-checkout stands and their new technology in general, check out our blog post on, The Future of Faster Grocery Checkout Stands. You can also take a look at some of our products that aim to help reduce in-store theft here.

What are your thoughts about self-checkout stands; are they beneficial or are they causing more harm than good? We would love to hear your comments. To learn more about IT Retails grocery solutions, visit our website and schedule a demo with us today. 

Key Points 

  • Self-Checkout Kiosks have become a new normal for almost every grocery store, but so have new ways to steal products from grocery stores. 
  • In Voucher Codes Pro’s study, 20 percent of people said they had stolen at the self-checkout line. More than 50 percent of the admitted thieves said they chose to steal because store security was weak.
  • Methods commonly called the “pass around,” the “weight abuse” and “the switcheroo” are being used to trick the self-checkout kiosks system and steal grocery items. 
  • Loss from self-checkout theft is called “external shrinkage” and stores have to increase prices to combat the loss.
  • Americans now have to pay an additional $435 on groceries due to these price increases. 
  • Anti-theft software can help with protecting the self-checkout lane, as can adding a staff member to watch the lanes. 
  • IT Retail provides information and software to help your store combat theft and lower your external shrinkage 
  • Visit our website and schedule a demo with us today.