According to a recent survey from the U.K., approximately 19 percent of shoppers admitted to stealing from self-checkouts with the majority of those claiming they did doing so regularly. Around 57 percent of those indicated they first started stealing at self-checkouts because they couldn't get an item to scan.
George Charles, spokesperson for VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, which conducted the survey of 2,634 shoppers regarding their use of self-checkouts, told The Daily Telegraph, "I'm sure most of those who now admit to stealing via self-service checkouts didn't initially set out to do so — they may have forgotten to scan something and quickly realized how easy it could be to take items without scanning them."
After being unable to scan, the second reason given for stealing at self checkouts were "Less likely to get caught" (51 percent), followed by "The machine is easy to fool" (47 percent), "Didn't have enough money" (32 percent), and "At the time I didn't realize it hadn't scanned" (six percent).
The top items people admit stealing from self-checkouts:
1. Fruit/vegetables - 67 percent
2. Bakery - 41 percent
3. Confectionery - 32 percent
4. Toiletries - 26 percent
With shoppers shown to be less tempted to thieve if they think someone is watching them, many stores are said to be increasing the number of staff monitoring self-checkouts and also training them around detection. But some high-tech solutions are arriving to combat self-checkout theft.
According to a separate story in The Telegraph, one company has applied to patent a system to profile customers at self-checkouts. Based on factors such as time of day, shopping history and checkout length, an algorithm may alert a shopping assistant if a customer is "high risk".
StopLift's Self-Checkout Accelerator system, using overhead cameras to constantly monitor security video, detects merchandise left in the shopping cart or bagged outside of the bagging area without scanning.
In an article in Security Director News exploring Woods Supermarkets adoption of StopLift's system, Malay Kundu, StopLift's president, said, "Self-checkout is completely open to abuse, but it's here to stay. I believe that it will become as ubiquitous as self-service kiosks at airports. What we're seeing are growing pains."
Will the number of self-checkouts in the U.S. increase, decrease or remain the same on a per store basis over the next 10 years?