Not placing items bagging area: Nearly one in five self-service supermarket customers steals goods


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The Independent Online

More than £1.6bn worth of groceries and other goods are being stolen every year by supermarket customers using self-service tills, according to a new survey.

The survey found that 19 per cent of shoppers confessed to stealing at checkouts. An average of £15 worth of produce a month was taken, with fruit and vegetables the most commonly stolen items.

Some 57 per cent of the thieves said they started taking things for free because the tills did not work and then took more goods when realised they could get away with it.

The survey, reported by The Daily Telegraph, interviewed more than 2,600 people about their shopping habits.

George Charles, a spokesman for which carried out the survey, said he was “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 could be to take items without scanning them,” he said.

“Supermarkets need to increase the number of staff who monitor the self-scan checkouts, even though the point of these checkouts is to reduce the need for staff, as well as increase their security measures to ensure this comes to an end.”

Mr Charles also advised customers that it was “not worth getting into trouble with the police over the matter of a few pieces of fruit and veg”.

Crispian Strachan, of Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology, said that the “method of observation at a self-service till may be more of a temptation than being watched by someone”.

“Shop theft has often been thought of as a victimless crime,” he said. “What people have always done is rationalise it to themselves as something that 'nobody will notice' anyway, but I don't see it like that. These costs are passed onto the store and the tax payer.”

The British Retail Consortium last year said thefts were at the highest level in nine years, but it estimated that the cost to retailers was much lower at £511m.