Criminal defense attorney and TikToker Carrie Jernigan says that using self-checkouts can be risky due to the possibility of being falsely arrested for shoplifting, which could result in expensive, reputation-eroding hassle to clear one's name. She gives three reasons why people may get charged with shoplifting at a self-checkout:
- Intentional Shoplifting: shoplifters who use deceptive tactics, such as scanning a few items they intend to pay for while concealing other expensive items with fake or cheaper barcodes. However, improved systems have made it harder for the "asset protection team" to identify these tactics, and shoplifters now come prepared with well-thought-out plans.
- Accidental Shoplifting: people who forget to scan certain items at the self-checkout. Stores were lenient with such cases in the early days of self-checkout, but the increasing sophistication of intentional shoplifters has led big box stores to treat accidental shoplifting more seriously, resulting in charges even for those who made honest mistakes.
- The Truly Innocent: people who are charged due to errors or misjudgments made by the store's asset protection team during quality control checks or inventory. This could happen days, weeks, or even months after the honest purchase. The evidence presented by the store may be minimal, and it might be based on hours of video surveillance. Proving innocence in such cases can be challenging and costly, as it often involves hiring a lawyer, scrutinizing grainy video footage, and providing detailed evidence of what was purchased that day.
In a follow-up video, she provides tips for those who stubbornly insist on using self-checkout despite these risks.