Shoppers steal £3.2billion from self-service tills every year with nearly a quarter of Britons admitting to taking at least one item without paying for it
Almost one in four admit to stealing at least one item without paying while a study shows theft from unmanned checkouts has more than doubled in the past four years
Britons are stealing £3.2 billion worth of goods from self-service tills each year – equating to around £5 per person a month.
Almost one in four people admit to stealing at least one item without paying while a study shows theft from unmanned checkouts has more than doubled in the past four years.
The research, carried out by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, found regional variations with northerners more likely to steal than those living in the south of England.
Supermarkets appear to be the hardest hit of retailers with the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morissons and Waitrose rolling out self-scan checkouts in the last decade.
Tesco was the first chain to adopt the technology, running a pilot in 2003 which lead to the national introduction in key stores by 2009.
Executives hoped the would be an easier way for customers to pay for their goods while reducing the need and expense of staff to man the tills.
However the study’s findings suggests self checkouts are costing businesses more money due to a huge hike in shoplifting.
And online confessions show customers have been making the most of the new-found freedom by giving themselves discounts or passing through items for free.
One woman admits she regularly pays less for Pink Lady apples by selecting ‘Braeburn’ when scanning the item through.
And a man revealed he once asked a member of staff at Tesco to remove the tag for a bottle of vodka and placed it in his carrier bag without scanning it.
While another, 25, professed he regularly exploits the ‘carrier bag’ system, where shoppers are supposed to pay 5 pence per bag.
He bags up his shopping as usual but when the automated till asks the question of how many he has used, he simply selects ‘0’.
Toiletries, fruit and vegetables and dairy products are the most common items to be taken
This dishonest trick hasn’t gone unnoticed in some stores, however.
Sainsbury’s Local on Kensington Church Street in London introduced a proof of purchase policy for those wanting carrier bags.
Despite the affluence of the well-heeled area, staff said customers were flouting the rules and they were forced to introduce special measures.
The plastic carriers were removed from the self-serve machines and a sign erected, reading: ‘Please ask an attendant for a bag and provide receipt once paid. Thank you.’
The study, which polled 2,000 people, found toiletries, fruit and vegetables and dairy products are the most common items to be taken with almost half of those who admitted to stealing claim to do so regularly.
Confession: A quick search on social media reveals dozens of middle-class shoppers have been dishonest at the self-serve checkout. This man revealed he bought two onions for the price of one
‘I am going to burn in hell!’: This Twitter user pokes light at the severity of their alleged crime as they openly told Twitter about the time they stole a loaf of bread
‘I’m just going to guess!’: A veiled threat to the supermarket gods from another customer, who warned if the system did not make it clear the cost of his chosen variety of plum, he would hazard a guess (which could leave to Alan hazarding for the cheaper option…)
However the findings do not necessarily mean there has been a collapse in British morals, experts said.
Up to 62 per cent of those who admitted to taking an item said it was due to a technical difficulty with the machine.
And a third claimed they had forgotten to pay and only realised after getting home.
Others said the checkouts do not always count items that are being scanned, leading to people unknowingly leaving the shop without paying.
But a very honest two-fifths of those polled confessed they had stolen the items because they knew they could get away with it.
Across the country there are an estimated 50,000 self-scan checkouts, with Tesco alone operating more than 12,000.
SPIKE IN SELF-SERVE SHOPLIFTERS
Shocking figures show since the widespread introduction of self-serve tills in 2009:
:: Britons are stealing £3.2bn a year from self-scan machines
:: This figure has more than DOUBLED since 2014 when collective total was £1.3bn a year
:: This works out at a cost of around £5 per Briton each month
:: Those in the north steal more than southerners, with average monthly cost of items working out at £33
:: Thieves who steal the least are from east England, who take an average of £14 a month each
They were introduced in the 1990s but became widespread in the mid-noughties as the major supermarkets installed the technology across stores nationally.
In theory, the machines were sold to big bosses as a way to save on paying for staff to man the tills.
However this survey could cast doubt in their role as money saving devices as it shows a huge spike in shoplifting in three years.
When a sample of 2,000 people were asked in 2014 whether they stole goods through self-service checkouts, the total combined amount came to £1.3 billion a year.
But when the same amount of people were asked recently, the collective figure had more than doubled to £3.2 billion – a collective amount of £23 a month for everyone who admits to stealing.
The Times reports last month the Office for National Statistics disclosed the number of shoplifting offences jumped by more than 10 per cent in a year, after increases in previous years.
Of those who admitted taking something, the average monthly value of the items was £33 in northwest England compared with £18 in the South East. The least, £14, was taken in east England. Scots stole the second highest amount at £31 a month. Residents of London took an average of £24.
George Charles, a spokesman for VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, told the newspaper: ‘I’m sure most of those who now admit to stealing via self-service checkouts didn’t initially set out to do so: they may have forgotten to scan something and quickly realised how easy it was to take items without scanning them.
‘No doubt there’s an element of risk, but when people start stealing it can be difficult to stop, until you get caught, particularly when money might be tight.
‘Supermarkets need to increase the number of staff who monitor the selfscan checkouts, even though the point of these checkouts is to reduce the need for staff, as well as increase security.’
A quick search on social media reveals dozens of guilt-ridden shoppers have shared confessions of their supermarket shoplifting sprees.
A man known as Patrick wrote: ‘The self-service machine at Tesco asked me how many onions I bought. I bought two but I said one. This is my confession.’
While another trilled at managing to sneak a share bag of Minstrels through the self-scan machine at Waitrose without paying.
Millions of shoppers are depriving charities of thousands of pounds by stealing 5p plastic bags
One in six shoppers have admitted stealing 5p plastic bags at self-service checkouts, research has found.
That figure would equate to millions of customers not paying the levy and depriving charities of thousands of pounds.
The findings have prompted calls for supermarkets to advertise in stores so customers know the cash goes to charity on top of the environmental benefits.
One in six shoppers have admitted stealing 5p plastic bags at self-service checkouts, research has found
The study carried out for the Mail revealed that Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were the most common places to have taken bags.
A quarter of those who have stolen 5p or 10p bags did so in Marks & Spencer or Waitrose. Criminologists said the culprits did not see the theft of small items from self-service checkouts as shoplifting.
Customers were also said to be suspicious of how much of the 5p charge actually went to charity.
In September it emerged that Tesco has taken more than 10 per cent of the proceeds for administration costs.
The study of 1,050 shoppers carried out by Consumer Intelligence research agency found that one in six admit they have previously not paid. One in five of this group have never paid the charge.
A third of the non-payers did not hand over the 5p because they did not agree with the levy.