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Britons admit to stealing at self-scan tills

Self scanners costing stores billions, says report

A man carrying a shopping basket in a supermarket

Stock up on baby essentials at your local supermarket

The equivalent of 2 million Britons admit stealing goods when using supermarket ‘self-scan’ checkouts in the past year, a survey said today.

The poll for security company G4S found 7% of adults said they had failed to scan the barcode of an item when using the self-service facilities.

The company calculated that the ‘self-scan scam’ is costing supermarkets hundreds of millions of pounds a year.


Customers who eat and drink items in shops without paying – known as ‘grazers’ – are also costing stores an estimated £207 million a year.

£207 million

Estimated cost of ‘grazers’ who eat items without paying

The poll found 8% of Brits admitted failing to pay for consumed items when they reached the checkout.

Almost one in ten questioned for the survey (9%) admitted shoplifting in the last 12 months, stealing a total of more than £747 million worth of goods.


G4S’s Douglas Greenwell said: ‘While retailers will be pleased that shoppers are taking advantage of these new self-service technologies, this survey shows that they’ll have to address this new threat from self-service scamming.

‘It would be a shame if self-service checkouts were removed because they are abused by those who think they can get away without paying.’

He added: ‘We are seeing an increasing number of shopping baskets littered with empty wrappers or half eaten bunches of grapes. This ‘grazing’ is a form of theft and costs the retail industry millions of pounds in lost revenue each year…Shoplifting is still wrongly perceived as a victimless crime.’

Regional difference

People living in the Greater London region are the mostly likely to participate in a ‘self-scan scam’ with 12% admitting the act, amounting to 467,000 people.

People living in Scotland are the least likely, with 4% or 119,000 people.

Research company TNS conducted an online survey of 1,000 Britons aged 16 to 64.

G4S was unable to put a figure on the cost of self scan scams, but estimated it was higher than losses due to grazing as the scammers tended to steal higher value items.

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