Stores Use Self-Check-Out Lanes to Accuse Shoppers of Theft, Says Lawyer


    Stores are using self-check-out lanes to accuse shoppers of theft said an attorney. The lawyer warned on social media that using self-serve checkout could land an individual in jail for stealing. Innocent customers are being accused of theft as stores use security footage at the register, said Carrie Jernigan, attorney and influencer with more than 1.2 million followers on TikTok.

    “As a criminal defense attorney, I advise most people to steer clear of self-checkout,” informed Jernigan in a video that has gone viral.

    Shoplifting using self-checkout has three groups of people that are targeted for theft, says the attorney.

    Those “with the intent to steal” is the first group. Although theft is still possible, cameras and weight sensors have made walking away with unpaid merchandise more difficult.

    “Theft- by-mistake” is the second most common group to be accused of stealing.  “These are the people that I genuinely think just forgot to scan an item,” she continued, citing an example of unintentionally leaving something at the bottom of the shopping cart. Despite the unexpected mishap, these shoppers do commonly deal with charges, “because … the big-box stores aren’t going to spend their time and resources trying to figure out if you did it on purpose,” Jernigan said.

    The “truly innocent” is the third group of shoppers.

    “Most of these are not getting charged day of,” she explained. Instead, their dilemma starts when somebody in the asset protection department of a store begins calculating stock, possibly days, weeks, or months later, and “comes up short.”

    “So they will begin watching hours of video to see the last person who checked out with the Mario Lego set because they’re two short or an Xbox game. And, for some reason, they pinpoint that they think you did it,” she explained.

    According to Jernigan, stores like Walmart have to produce little evidence to get an affidavit for warrants on the charges.

    “The charges that could land you up to a year in jail,” she cautioned. “You have to spend thousands of dollars hiring a lawyer and we have to go through grainy video footage to try to determine what all you bought that day.”

    For larger purchases, Jernigan urged people to pay with their credit cards and to keep a receipt for purchase items.

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