Is it Shoplifting in Michigan if You Forget to Scan an Item at Self Checkout?
Self-scan checkouts are everywhere. At first, they were a novelty: "Hey look at me I'm checking myself out!" Then, over the last few years, grocery stores would take away a cashier and add in another self-checkout lane, take away a cashier, add another self-checkout lane until you had at most two available cashiers and a huge bank of 'do it yourself' checkout lanes.
It seems odd to me that the powers that be feel that the majority of us who have never been a cashier by trade are now responsible for the exchange of currency for goods. I've always thought this would result in a huge rash of theft. Honestly, how tempting and easy would it be to scan everything in your cart except one or two items? Who is going to notice? The one cashier who babysits the masses of amateur scanners is too busy pushing buttons to take items off that the untrained have accidentally rung up twice.
Whether you do it intentionally or it's a mistake, if you leave the store after using the self-checkout with an item you didn't scan, you can be charged with retail fraud in the state of Michigan. If convicted of 1st-degree retail fraud, you could serve up to 5 years in prison and/or pay up to a $10,000 fine.
An Alpena County woman was charged with 1st-degree retail fraud in 2022 for stealing more than $1,000 worth of merchandise, according to Fox News. TeddyJo Marie Fliam was caught on store surveillance video skipping items while at the self-checkout over several visits between April and September of 2022. Police tracked Fliam down and arrested her at her home.
Maybe you think you can beat the system by switching prices? Well, police used surveillance footage to show that Michael Ray Jackson was swapping barcodes on high-ticket items with less pricey barcodes. Jackson was able to steal over $1,600 in merchandise until he was caught and charged with 1st-degree retail fraud. It turns out Jackson and Marie were working together to bilk the Alpena Walmart for a while.
Knowing this, are you more likely to wait in line for the two human cashiers on duty, or will you brave the self-scan and risk heading to prison? One thing is for sure, if grocery stores are able to make us cash ourselves out, it won't be long before we are stocking shelves and bringing carts in before we are allowed to shop.