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Attorney Christopher T. Adams

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3 forms of shoplifting that could occur at the self-checkout

Self-checkouts have begun to dominate the big-box retail landscape. Many major retailers now offer self-checkout options. Some don’t even have adequate cashiers on hand to handle the needs of customers anymore.

In some regards, self-checkouts can be convenient for business patrons. They can be quite efficient. However, they come with a host of risks and liabilities. Customers frustrated by the need to scan and bag their own groceries sometimes compensate themselves for their work by manipulating what they pay for their purchases. Some of the sneaky tricks utilized at the self-checkout might actually lead to shoplifting charges.

Swapping or altering price tags

Customers might pull the barcode or price tag off of one item and place it on another. They may then scan the barcode for the cheaper item to trick the self-checkout system and pay a fraction of what the item is actually worth. Any attempt to change the price of an item by tampering with labels or barcodes could lead to shoplifting allegations.

Putting items in other items

There are several ways for people to use packaging and containers to shoplift at the self-checkout. They might put a pair of earrings in the toes of a pair of shoes, and then only pay for the shoes. They might fill an empty storage canister with small items and then only pay for the container. Attempting to hide merchandise inside other purchased items and leave the store without ringing them up could lead to shoplifting allegations.

Intentionally misrepresenting items

Someone who wants to buy dragonfruit or organic snow peas may not want to pay the relatively high price per pound or item for their produce. They might ring up a non-organic version or a much cheaper type of fruit, such as pears when checking out with their groceries. Any intentional efforts to underpay by misrepresenting the items that someone tends to purchase could be shoplifting even if they don’t alter any packaging or labels to do so.

People don’t necessarily need to leave a business for the store to accuse them of shoplifting and pursue charges against them. Those who recognize the mistakes that might lead to Georgia shoplifting allegations can potentially make smarter choices in the self-checkout lane. Understanding why a business might believe that innocent conduct was an attempt at shoplifting could help someone trying to develop a defense strategy accordingly.


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