As retailers continue to explore methods to reduce payroll while keeping inventory shrinkage under control, the latest innovation might accomplish one goal while failing at the second. The self-checkout system is a technological innovation you’ve likely seen in retail stores both large and small. Banks of these units are generally monitored by video surveillance or a roaming attendant or both. Unfortunately, these methods of loss prevention might not be up to the task.

While it might seem like a completely different situation, manipulating a store’s self-checkout system is theft and individuals can likely be charged with shoplifting. According to The Atlantic, the number of worldwide self-checkout terminals are expected to number 325,000 by next year. In 2013, there were 191,000 such terminals.

With this proliferation of technology, many shoppers are finding ways around the system.

  • In a recent survey by Voucher Codes Pro, nearly 20 percent of respondents admitted to having stolen at the self-checkout units.
  • In 2015, criminologists at the University of Leicester audited one million self-checkout transactions, totaling $21 million in sales, and found that nearly $850,000 worth of goods left the store without being scanned and paid for.

Many individuals have stated that they routinely steal due to taking a stance against the very issue the retailers are trying to improve – payroll. People consider the store corrupt by forcing customers to become cashiers – essentially free labor. Make no mistake, though, this type of protest is still shoplifting no matter what personal rationalizations against a faceless corporation the customer can create.

Theft crimes are taken quite seriously in Washington. Depending on certain factors including the value of the items, individuals can face jail time, fines, restitution and community service. Do not hesitate to discuss your unique situation with a skilled criminal defense attorney.