Saturday, February 3, 2018

Light Lifting

How common is self-checkout shoplifting?

If anonymous online questionnaires are any indication, very common. When Voucher Codes Pro, a company that offers coupons to internet shoppers, surveyed 2,634 people, nearly 20 percent admitted to having stolen at the self-checkout in the past. More than half of those people said they gamed the system because detection by store security was unlikely.
The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery
No surprises there. But I found this bit to also be interesting:
In their zeal to cut labor costs, [a 2015 study conducted by criminologists at the University of Leicester] said, supermarkets could be seen as having created “a crime-generating environment” that promotes profit “above social responsibility.”
Maybe it's just me, but I'm pretty sure that people have prioritized their own personal benefit and profit above "social responsibility" long before supermarkets decided that every checkout station being staffed was cutting into shareholder value. And this isn't because people have something against social responsibility (which is one of the weird terms that seems like the mating call of a left-leaning European academic) but because personal benefit, profit, getting ahead in life or whatever you chose to call it have always been pretty much everyone's priority. The issue isn't that people place profit above responsibility - it's that responsibility is a means and profit is often an end. So when responsibility seems like the best way to a better life, people will chose that; when "gaming the system" (or out-and-out theft) seems to be the best way, then it becomes the means of choice.

It's been pointed out that the social contract, in many cases, really works on the "honor system," and that the main benefit of many rules (and security measures) is to keep honest people honest. One of the things that we learn from the idea that “Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self checkout is a total moron,” as one Redditor put it, is that respect for honesty may be less common than we might like to think.

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