Shoppers who use “just walk out” at the self-checkout lane won’t get in trouble — unlike the “banana trick” at Walmart & Kroger

In recent years, reports of self-checkout theft at stores like Walmart and Kroger have surfaced.

It’s so pervasive that a new jargon has emerged, with retail bosses coining phrases like the “banana trick.”

Retail bosses have coined terms to describe self-checkout theft as reports have become more common in recent years


Retail bosses have coined terms to describe self-checkout theft as reports have become more common in recent yearsPhoto credit: Getty

But dozens of Amazon stores have a technology known as “Just Walk Out,” meaning customers don’t have to search for items, potentially reducing in-store theft.

Bosses have said the technology “eliminates the checkout” because customers don’t have to wait in lines, either.

Stores that have Just Walk Out installed require shoppers to check-in to the store using Amazon One.

Shoppers can pay with Amazon One or enter a store using their palms.

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Walmart & Kroger do

Alternatively, they can enter the store by scanning their debit card or app.

Customers are billed for the items they pull from the shelves.

High-resolution cameras can track the items that shoppers pull from the shelves.

They explained: “These devices are sensitive enough to accurately and reliably detect even the smallest product and to detect removed or replaced product that cameras cannot see.”

Amazon claims more than a dozen third-party providers have adopted Just Walk Out technology to ensure a “smooth” experience for shoppers.

Meanwhile, self-checkout users have resorted to tactics like the “banana trick” in a desperate attempt to save money.

It refers to shoppers scanning an expensive item with a code for a cheaper product.

Customers sometimes forget to scan a grocery store, which is referred to as “pass through.”

While others have resorted to a “switcheroo,” which refers to customers peeling the sticker off a cheap product before sticking it over the price tag of a more expensive product.

Customers have resorted to this strategy to save money on their groceries.


Caught buyers, however, risk jail time.

Chasity Shirley, 34, faced up to 10 years behind bars after swapping barcodes on a toothbrush holder and a child’s blanket and tank top at a Walmart store in Kentucky, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

She was convicted of “unlawfully gaining access to a computer.”

Typical shoplifting offenses for items under $500 carry a fine of only $250 and up to 90 days in prison under state law.

But prosecutors and Walmart had argued that when Shirley exchanged barcodes at the self-checkout, she illegally accessed the store’s computer system.

Unlawful access to a computer is a Class C felony, punishable by five to ten years in prison.

However, the appeals court argued that Shirley and other Walmart customers are permitted to use the in-store checkout.

Last week, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that Shirley should not face a felony or such a lengthy sentence.

And the Kentucky Court of Appeals unanimously said the conviction was “inherently unfair.”

Shirley could now receive a directed judgment that would see the conviction dismissed.

Dozens of shoppers have shared horror stories accusing them of stealing items while using the self-checkout.

Between January 2021 and March 2022, more than 60 customers were arrested at a Tucson Walmart store after accidentally forgetting to scan some items.

Shadd Maruna, a professor of crime at Queens University in Belfast, believes some buyers find it easier to steal from machines than people.

She told the Courier-Journal: “Most of us feel embarrassed when we’re caught by a fellow man trying to steal something.

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“Removing the human eyes and replacing them with technology makes the process seem less shameful.”

Assistant professor of sociology at Drew University in New Jersey, Christopher Andrews, also believes shoppers find some justification for stealing because self-checkout machines are removing jobs behind the register. Shoppers who use “just walk out” at the self-checkout lane won’t get in trouble — unlike the “banana trick” at Walmart & Kroger


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