Self-Service Checkouts Are Making Criminals of Us All

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

A report from criminologists at the University of Leicester has found that shoppers are more likely to be tempted to steal items when they use self-service checkouts.

The study, which analysed data from over 11 million shopping trips in the UK and abroad, shows that the cost of stolen goods in supermarkets rises by 122% after the introduction of self-checkouts.

It’s not just petty thieves either. According to the report, ‘normally honest people’ -- like sweet-looking grannies with those funny wheelie bags -- find it easier to carry out the thrilling crime when they don’t have a human to deal with, and can use the excuse of the machines being a bit annoying sometimes to justify the naughtiness. What's more, the risk of getting caught isn't that scary, as it's easy to pretend to have just forgotten to scan an item and it's tough for supermarkets to work out whether or not that fancy bit of foreign cheese was deliberately dumped straight into the bagging area. Oh, and nobody really trusts machines.

“From the retailers’ perspective, the benefits seem obvious – less investment required in staff and checkout technologies, with the former being the biggest expense they face,” said Professor Adrian Beck, from UoL's department of criminology. “To borrow a well-warn phrase, ‘what could possibly go wrong’? Well, our research found that quite a bit could and does go wrong, with some potentially rather worrying long term consequences.”

Next time you pop around to your gran’s and she cracks out the biccies and tea, it might be time for an uncomfortable chat. [Telegraph]