Self checkout stealing at Walmart & Kroger has its own jargon from “The Banana Trick” to “The Pass Around” & “Switcheroo”

Self-checkout theft has become so popular over the years that shops have developed their own jargon when it comes to shoplifting, including phrases such as “the banana trick”, “the pass around” and “the interchange”.

Self-checkout stealing while shopping at stores like Walmart and Kroger is so common that stores speak their own language when it comes to shoplifter tactics.

Stores have developed their own jargon when it comes to self-checkout theft tactics


Stores have developed their own jargon when it comes to self-checkout theft tacticsPhoto credit: Getty
Researchers said shoppers who wouldn't normally steal do so at self-checkout because it's easy


Researchers said shoppers who wouldn’t normally steal do so at self-checkout because it’s easyPhoto credit: Getty

“The banana trick” came about when shoppers scanned an expensive item with a code for a cheaper item, The Atlantic reported in 2018.

For example, the outlet used a T-bone steak. That expensive steak would cost $13.99 a pound, but a shopper would scan an item from products at 49 cents a pound to get their dinner cheap.

Another common trick is for customers to simply not scan the item at all. This is called “handling”.

One of the more difficult tactics is called “Switcheroo”.

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This is when a shopper peels the sticker off of something cheap and sticks it over the barcode of something more expensive to save on their purchases.

The tricky part is that both items must be the same weight, otherwise the “Unexpected item in packaging area” alert could be triggered, the outlet reported.

Criminologists from the University of Leicester said people who wouldn’t normally steal do so at self-checkout simply because it’s easy.

It’s not that these shoppers have a plan to steal, but rather that they decide to grab something at the end of their shopping spree.

“People who traditionally do not want to steal [might realize that] …if I buy 20, I get five free,” a retail worker told researchers.

Barbara Staib, communications director for the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, told the outlet, “Most shoplifters are otherwise law-abiding citizens.”

“They would chase after you to return the $20 bill you dropped because you’re a person and you were missing that $20.”

However, the lifeless pay machine “gives the wrong impression of anonymity,” said Staib.

“This apparently empowers people to shoplift.”

In a survey by When Voucher Codes Pro, nearly 20 percent of 2,634 respondents admitted to having stolen from a self-checkout, and more than half of those people said they did so because store security was unlikely to detect it.

In a recent Forbes article, Adrian Beck, professor of criminology at the University of Leicester, said: “Ordinary shoppers can be greatly encouraged by the cloak of apology that surrounds self-checkouts.”


However, sometimes shoppers really don’t want to steal at the self-checkout.

Matt Redwood, director of advanced self-service solutions at Diebold Nixdorf, whose self-checkouts are used by retailers like Ikea and Lidl, stressed the importance of accidental theft.

“It’s really important to make sure you don’t alienate this customer. Because maybe they just made a mistake,” Redwood told Forbes.

“What we don’t want to do is treat them like a thief and ultimately give them a bad experience so they don’t come back to this store.”

Accidentally stealing from self-checkout lanes is more common than you think.

In an exclusive interview with The US Sun, an Arizona consultant said many of her customers have been accused of shoplifting simply because they missed an item when they checked out.

“There was a certain Walmart here in Tucson that I got a lot of customers from [from] …it’s an average of two to three a week,” Barger said.

These buyers come from all walks of life. They are doctors, teachers and entrepreneurs. Barger hears the same story – “they forgot to scan something very small,” she said.

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In a previous statement to The US Sun, Walmart said: “Tackling shoplifting is a challenge for every retailer, including Walmart. To help, we continually invest in people, programs and technology for businesses fighting this problem.

“Should customers have any questions or difficulties using our self-checkout cash registers, we encourage them to seek help from our staff who manage this area.” Self checkout stealing at Walmart & Kroger has its own jargon from “The Banana Trick” to “The Pass Around” & “Switcheroo”


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