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Do self-checkout counters lead to false shoplifting charges?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2021 | Theft Charges

Over the past decade, many retailers have installed numerous self-checkout machines to both increase the speed of transaction flow and reduce the payroll overhead for cashiers. Unfortunately, many of these stores have seen a dramatic increase in shrinkage tied to shoplifting and transaction fraud.

Retailers will want to satisfy both conditions as completely as possible – lower payroll while keeping loss prevention numbers to a minimum. However, this might only be possible through technology. By introducing AI-enabled video surveillance and complex weight-monitoring systems, the stores hope to account for any inconsistencies between the what the customer scans versus what is actually removed from the store.

Unfortunately, these technological measures are not infallible often leading to false-positives and inaccurate tracking. A store’s security staff might accuse customers of skip scanning, tag switching or other elements of shoplifting or transaction fraud, but the essential facts are these:

  • Customers are not paid, professional cashiers and are prone to mistakes
  • Customers might impact the weight measurement by leaving other items on the scale, or incorrectly positioning an item
  • Customers often become nervous or frustrated attempting to move quickly due to a line behind them

Store employees might incorrectly interpret a customer’s mistake as a shoplifting attempt. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding can lead to legal complications. In New Jersey, for example, a disorderly persons theft offense includes the theft of property valued at less than $200. A criminal conviction for a theft crime can mean fines, restitution, community service or jail time based on the severity of the charge. No matter the circumstances, it is wise to take immediate steps to protect yourself when facing any legal issue.