Australians are stealing billions of dollars worth of items at self-serve checkoutsSelf-serve registers are tempting well-meaning customers into shopliftingThieving shoppers are using imaginative techniques to score free productsSome scan expensive items as cheap fruit while others simply swipe...
- Australians are stealing billions of dollars worth of items at self-serve checkouts
- Self-serve registers are tempting well-meaning customers into shoplifting
- Thieving shoppers are using imaginative techniques to score free products
- Some scan expensive items as cheap fruit while others simply swipe the items
Customers are devising unique and imaginative ways to scam self-serve checkouts, costing Australian supermarkets billions.
Self-serve scanners were introduced in Australia 10 years ago – meaning pilfering consumers have had years to perfect their grocery stealing techniques.
Coles and Woolworths are targeted by thieves who ‘save’ money by failing to scan certain items, put through expensive goods as cheap products such as fruit or noodles, or even swap barcodes.
Self-serve scanners were introduced in Australia ten years ago, giving pilfering customers a decade to perfect their slight-of-hand grocery stealing techniques (Stock)
Supermarket giants such as Coles and Woolworths are targeted by self-serve thieves who ‘save’ money by failing to scan certain items, putting through expensive goods as cheap products such as fruit or noodles or even swapping barcodes
It is an epidemic of petty crime which has transformed some supermarket customers into scheming shoplifters.
However a large percentage of self-serve thieves believe their actions are justified because it is so simple and they are ‘only stealing’ from companies earning billions in profit each year.
A 2016 study conducted by Dr Emmeline Taylor at Australian National University (ANU) coined the term ‘swipers’ – which describes ‘well-intentioned’ people who are tempted into theft by self-serve registers.
‘Do-it-yourself checkouts appear to increase the incidence of theft by customers, particularly those who wouldn’t normally steal,’ said Dr Taylor.
‘These shoppers often claim that they first stole items by accident or they couldn’t get an item to scan, and then they continue to steal regularly and come up with a range of excuses to justify their behaviour.
‘Many of these shoplifters do not think their behaviour is really criminal but rather they think they’re just cheating the system or gamifying an otherwise mundane activity,’ she added.
It is an epidemic of petty crime which has transformed well-meaning supermarket customers into scheming shoplifters (Stock image)
In 2016, a staggering $4.5 billion worth of retail theft occurred in Australia alone. (Stock image)
In 2016, a staggering $4.5 billion worth of retail theft occurred in Australia alone.
In February last year a mother from Ipswich, Queensland was caught red-handed after she stole $4,500 worth of groceries from Coles and Woolworths by scanning every single item as a packet of 72 cent noodles.
The woman glued the barcode of cut price fried noodles onto expensive slabs of meat, $200 coffee machines and other household products over a three-month period.
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Her plot was foiled by a Woolworths employee who watched her at a checkout and she was sentenced to a nine month suspended jail sentence.
A ‘poor’ German backpacker was fined $100 this week after he failed to scan through expensive meat, bacon and cheese while at a self-serve register.
The man was caught after he only scanned through a portion of his groceries and attempted to bag unpaid items, a method used by many checkout thieves.
Other shady techniques used by shoplifters include using re-usable bags which aren’t weighed by the machine, scanning through a bunch of expensive avocados as only one and failing to let the machine properly weigh a bag of pricey nuts.
However, technology invented by an Australian start-up could soon make self-serve theft a thing of the past.
Tiliter Technology has invented a system which could make it virtually impossible to fraudulently scan an item through as a cheaper product.
The new ‘smart checkout’ will automatically identify what a product is without the need for pesky barcodes.
The offending customers use a wide-range of inventive practices to save money or even downright steal at the self-serve checkouts (Stock image)
Company co-founder Chris Sampson said the machines are so advanced they can even spot the difference between different types of the same fruit.
‘Our tech is different from some of the stuff we have seen struggle in the past because it can tell the difference between a red delicious and royal gala apple for example,’ he told news.com.au.
A number of independent grocers are trialling the system, however Woolworths has confirmed to Daily Mail Australia the supermarket has no plans to implement the technology.
‘Self-service checkout is an incredibly popular and convenient option for customers short on time, and we know the vast majority of shoppers do the right thing when using them,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Of course, we have comprehensive security measures in place for those that don’t.’
Daily Mail Australia has also contacted Coles for comment.