woman scanning item in self-checkout line

Self Checkout theft charges on the rise in South Carolina and elsewhere

With the proliferation of self-checkout lanes at WalMart and other retail stores across the country, charges for self-checkout shoplifting are on the rise. What used to be a very simple process of having a cashier scan your items and you pay for them has turned into a nightmare for many shoppers recently. Have you ever been in a hurry while grocery shopping? Have you ever felt rushed? Have you ever had several small children with you? Do you find the bagging area too cramped to manage your purchases as you scan them? What used to just be one of the errands in your busy day, for some people, has turned into a trip to jail, having to go to Court and facing the prospects of a large fine and/or jail time.

Some stores have no tolerance for self checkout shoplifting

In an attempt by retailers to cut costs, a lot of stores (especially WalMart) have gotten rid of cashiers, closed checkout lanes, and gone to the self-checkout model. This has caused a rise in theft; traditional checkout theft accounts for just 1.5% of retail inventory loss, but almost 4% for retailers using self-checkout, according to a report*. It’s no different in South Carolina. While these checkout machines can be a convenient end to your shopping trip, it also can lead to a harrowing experience of arrest, jail, large fines and the stigma that goes along with these things. What is going wrong? Well, while there are people who use the checkout lines to shoplift, there are many people everyday who make an honest mistake because they are distracted and miss items that they thought were scanned. They end up with an unexpected item in their bags.

Unfortunately, when a customer makes an honest mistake most of the time they are not given the benefit of the doubt by the loss prevention team. They are marched into a back room, treated with disrespect, the police are called, and they are arrested. In the past, if the cashier accidentally forgot to scan an item nothing happened or they realized it and scanned it. Now with the self-checkout lanes, it is assumed that you intended to steal the item(s) and you are dealt with accordingly.

Defense for those charged

If you live in South Carolina, the Law Office of David B. Tarr is here to help you. Whether you were caught stealing at the self-checkout, or if you merely made an honest mistake while distracted or in a hurry. David Tarr has experience defending people charged with all types of shoplifting and theft charges. Please give us a call, so that we may help you through this unfortunate ordeal.


*University of Leicester

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