I’m a lawyer – Walmart & Target must take action against “scan artists” who see innocent shoppers being hit with nasty false accusations
RETAILERS like Walmart and Target have introduced self-checkout machines in their stores in recent years, revolutionizing the shopping experience.
“Technological change has resulted in some customers receiving petty theft after making mistakes while using the kiosks,” according to Los Angeles premises liability attorney, Michael Ehline.
And reports of self-checkout-related theft have become increasingly common in recent years.
Defense attorney John Guidry has urged retailers to crack down on shoppers who attempt to steal.
In a blog post, the Orlando-based attorney referred to clients who swap barcodes on items to save money as “scan artists.”
He recalled in a blog post that suspected shoplifters resorted to sticking a $25 barcode on an item that cost $185.
Guidry warned: “It doesn’t work the way it used to” and that perpetrators “didn’t get away too much”.
Brazen shoplifters can remove stickers from a cheaper item and apply them over a more expensive item in a so-called “switcheroo”.
Failure to intentionally scan goods is known as “passing on”.
Guidry claimed shoplifters don’t “forget” to scan a cup of pasta, they fail to check the most expensive items.
However, the legal expert also warned that a buyer could face a petty theft charge even if they made a mistake.
He said the more items a customer buys, the harder it is to prove that the missed item wasn’t due to human or machine error.
However, according to the lawyer, it is easier to show that the missed scan was intentional when there are fewer items.
The defense attorney explained, “If you bought seven items and forgot to scan three, you probably have a petty theft right there.”
It comes after another lawyer warned that shoppers who accidentally steal goods can still be arrested.
CASH REGISTER WARNINGS
In a TikTok clip, an attorney for the Sparks law firm in Texas said, “Be careful when using the self-checkout.”
He revealed that stores have cameras and inventory, which means they know when an item hasn’t been checked out.
He claimed: “They hand it over to the police. The police then get an arrest warrant and enter it into their system.”
The lawyer warned that if you conduct a traffic stop, police officers could arrest you on charges of theft.
Legal experts warn of the risks that customers are exposed to when using self-checkout.
Attorney Carrie Jernigan has broken down shoppers hit by the machines into three categories.
She said: “The first group of people to be charged with shoplifting at the self-checkout are [sic] People who go into the shops to steal.
“The second group of people who take up this charge, I will call accidental theft.
“These are the people I really think just forgot to scan an item.
“And the third group relates to those who are targeted after leaving the store.”
Jernigan warned she wouldn’t get into trouble if the store investigated her lost inventory.
She explained, “It’s something that, for example, asset protection does quality control or inventory falls short weeks, days, months later.”
Shoppers have taken to social media that they have been falsely accused of stealing from the self-checkout.
Walmart shopper Melissa Bartlett claimed the technology “failed” after she was accused of shoplifting.
Rachel Franco claimed her young daughter was accused of stealing a toy from the self-service checkout.
And Target buyer Alexis was pulled over by employees who said the machine wasn’t scanning properly.
She said in a viral clip: “It feels like you’re accusing me of stealing.
“I come here every week and will you have the audacity to tell me you feel like I haven’t scanned my stuff?”
The store staff ended up rescanning all of Alexis’ items, which they felt was a waste of time.
According to the 2022 National Retail Security Survey, retailers lost around $100 billion to so-called shrinkage.
The US Sun has reported how big companies like Walmart have taken action to crack down on shoplifting.
Some items were locked away in cupboards while others were kept behind Plexiglas.
Angry customers have claimed the promotion has made shopping “impossible”.
The goods are also protected by spun film, which is available in various shapes and sizes.