North West shoppers are most light-fingered at self-scan checkouts

Self-scan supermarket checkouts being targeted by thieves
Self-scan supermarket checkouts being targeted by thieves

A recent study has revealed that Britons steal £3.2bn from supermarkets via self-scan each year, with almost one quarter of Britons confessing to having sticky fingers when not being at the checkout - the biggest 'takers' coming from the North West.


According to the poll, the average Briton now steals £23 worth of products a month, which is £5 more a month than they were stealing in 2014.

Toiletries, fruit & veg and even dairy items are the most commonly stolen from supermarkets each year, Britons have confessed – with as many as 23% having stolen from supermarkets at least once.

The team at VoucherCodesPro.co.uk conducted a study in 2014 looking into the cost of thefts in supermarkets, and decided to redo the survey in 2017 to see how attitudes towards self-service checkouts have changed in the last three years.

2,532 Britons aged 18 and over, all of whom revealed to researchers that they had used a self-service checkout at least once, were quizzed for the purpose of the latest study. All respondents were spread equally across the 12 regions of the UK.

Wanting to find out why it was Britons would steal from self-service machines, they were asked to explain their reasoning behind their impulse.

Respondents were provided with a list of possible responses and asked to select all answers that applied, with the top five emerging as the most common reasons why.

The item wouldn’t scan or register – 62%

I knew I could get away with it – 40%

I forgot to scan an item – 36%

I didn’t have enough money at the time – 18%

I didn’t realise the item hadn’t scanned at the time – 11%

What’s more, of those who said they have never stolen anything via self-service checkouts, the majority (62%) confessed that they only haven’t tried to take anything without paying because they’re worried about getting caught and the consequences that would follow.

Those who have stolen from a self-service checkout in the past were asked to list which items they had taken without paying for, with toiletries topping the list (59%), followed by fruit/vegetables (48%), dairy items (43%) and confectionary (37%).

Of the respondents who admitted they’ve stolen items using self-service checkouts before, 46% claimed that they do this on a regular basis. These participants were asked to estimate how much they believed the items they stole each month cost as well as the region in which they lived to determine regional averages. The average cost per month of stolen goods was revealed as £23, with the regional averages emerging as follows:

North West – £33 (average monthly total of items stolen from a supermarket)

South West - £31

Scotland – £29

Wales – £29

Northern Ireland – £27

London – £24

Yorkshire & The Humber – £22

South East – £18

East Midlands – £17

North East – £16

West Midlands – £15

East of England – £14

George Charles, spokesperson for VoucherCodesPro.co.uk said: “Self-service checkouts are amazing. It’s great to see how far technology has come and, if you don’t want to have to deal with an overly cheerful sales assistant, they are a blessing. However, the issue is that without workers patrolling the area, it would seem people cannot be trusted to behave themselves."