Mistakes are easily made when people are in a rush. Cashiers might pick up an item, scan it, have an error pop up and not double-check that the item was charged. A cashier might forget to scan an item that was sitting in front of them on a table but out of sight behind the register. They may think an item scanned, but it might not appear on the receipt.
In all of these cases, the right thing to do, if you catch the error, is to let the cashier know. If you don’t catch the mistake, then it may be fine, but there is also a risk that you could be accused of shoplifting. For example, if you’re stopped by security on the way out of the store so that they can check your receipt, they may find that you have more items than what is listed.
Could you face shoplifting charges for a cashier’s mistake?
The truth is that you could, though it would be unlikely. If the cashier recognized that they didn’t scan the item, tried to stop you from leaving the store, was able to contact you and you still left, then there would be a way for the business to claim that you intentionally stole. Intention does matter in these cases.
On the other hand, if you get home and realize that you didn’t pay for an item but no one reached out to you, then you shouldn’t face any legal trouble. It’s reasonable to go back and pay for the item if you’d like to do so, but even if you don’t, that’s not usually a situation that would result in a charge.
The major difference in either case is intent. If you intended to steal, then that’s a situation where you could face a charge. If you had no intention to steal, which you could show by a willingness to pay for the item or proof of a receipt from going through the checkout, then you shouldn’t unnecessarily face charges.
Mistakes are made, but you can protect yourself
Mistakes are common in retail shops, but that doesn’t mean that you should be falsely accused of shoplifting. Every situation is going to be different, but if you had no intention of stealing, then you shouldn’t face charges. You have a right to defend yourself against those allegations if they arise.