What Did We Expect?
By: T.M. Moore|Published: April 9, 2012 5:02 PM
A report published today in USAToday indicates that self-checkout lanes in grocery stores are a mixed blessing.
On the one hand, customers appreciate the convenience of being able to move quickly through a checkout lane with minimum interruption and maximum ease.
On the other hand, grocery store theft has increased dramatically through these self-checkout lanes.
According to Jayne O’Donnell and Sarah Meehan, “Theft – intentional or not – is up to five times higher with self-checkout than when cashiers are working.” People are not lacking in ingenuity when it comes to ways of stealing grocers blind. One company that monitors such theft reports that it has “seen people scanning their Starbucks as bananas, leaving their items in the cart or reusable bag instead of scanning them and overloading the bagging area so that un-scanned merchandise can be piled on without being sensed.”
With self-checkouts in America scheduled to increase by 10% over the next few years, look for this school of felons to cost honest buyers plenty more than at present. When thieves break through and steal, whether intentionally or not, the rest of us are forced to cover the losses they create. More self-checkout lanes mean more theft. A spokeswoman for an advisory group working with stores to deal with this problem is simply resigned to outcome: “‘If they don’t find one way to steal, they’ll find another way,’” she says.
Undoubtedly store-owners who install self-checkout systems are equally cynical about theft – and are already making plans for how to cover their losses by over-charging the rest of us. We can’t expect them simply to eat the losses they have incurred for our convenience, can we?
Of course not. Consumers are resigned to having grocery and drug store owners steal from them in order to avoid having to bear the consequences of their decisions, decisions which may enhance customer convenience but which will continue to encourage theft.
The Law of God warns about the thieving tendencies of the human soul. There are more civil statutes, precepts, and rules attached to the eighth commandment than almost all the other commandments, five through ten, combined! The Law of God is seeking to alert us to the many ways we might fail in loving our neighbors because of the self-serving inclinations of our sinful souls.
But one good theft shouldn’t justify another. If my grocer knows he’s going to increase the rate at which he is stolen from by his neighbors, because of a decision he has made, a decision which manifestly aids thieves in their nefarious deeds, then why should he expect me to have to pay for it? Why not charge more for use of the self-checkout lane, so that those who are convenience by it have to pay for their convenience as well as for the theft their convenience encourages?
Given a vote on this matter, I will prefer the grocer who thinks of the welfare of all his customers, and not just the convenience of a few. Stealing from grocers and druggists is bad enough. Stealing from honest customers to cover losses incurred by bad judgment is also a violation of the eighth commandment.