Walmart Theft Self Checkout – A Closer Look

By | July 1, 2024

Walmart Theft Self Checkout

Hard to break out shoplifting from fraud at Walmart Self Checkout.  People walk in with big empty backpacks and walk out with full packs. I don’t think they went thru self-checkout.  The numbers are always in Billions and they have certainly helped Walmart keep prices high. Pandemic kind of ran out of gas. Hard to find decent reporting as most media outlets are totally beholden to their advertisers and advertisers expect constantly increasing audience. Still its a pretty Good article on The Street on Walmart ending its theft check.


While not many Americans admit to stealing via self-checkout, those who do don’t necessarily plan to stop. 15% of self-checkout users confess to purposely stealing. While 60% of those who have stolen felt remorseful and 33% say they’ve been caught, 44% say they’ll likely do it again. Although 79% of self-checkout users diligently ensure each item scans, 21% admit to accidentally taking an item — and guilt didn’t get the better of the 61% who kept it anyway.


Key takeaways from the web page about self-checkout and theft prevention:

  • Self-Checkout and Labor Costs: Retailers use self-checkout to reduce labor costs, but it also leads to theft issues.
  • Theft at Self-Checkout: Some customers intentionally steal items by not scanning them, while others make honest errors.
  • Walmart’s RFID Experiment: Walmart tested using RFID technology to prevent theft at self-checkout, but it didn’t work effectively.
  • Challenges and Alternatives: Retailers face challenges in enforcing theft prevention, and some are exploring other solutions like item limits or hybrid systems.
  • Current Stores — 10,600 across the world

Overall, self-checkout theft remains a concern, and retailers are seeking ways to address it.

Estimates for theft at Walmart self-checkouts vary, but here are some key points based on real-time information:

  • According to a recent Lending Tree survey of 2,000 Americans, theft at self-checkouts is a real issue, and individuals who engage in it are likely to repeat the behavior.
  • Walmart has faced losses from retail theft, with estimates of 3 2021, 6.1 billion in 2022, and $6.5 billion in 2023.
  • It is challenging to provide an accurate count of how many people steal at Walmart self-checkouts, as highlighted by a security guard’s perspective on Quora.
  • Reuters reported that Walmart may lose as much as $3 billion annually due to shoplifting, particularly at self-checkout

RFID to the Rescue?

In theory, the manual process of checking receipts can be automated, since every item Walmart (WMT)  sells must have an RFID (radio-frequency identification) tag.

“Suppliers are required to attach RFID tags to each individual product. These tags contain unique identifiers and essential information about the product,” Avery Dennison says, explaining Walmart’s policy. “Suppliers must provide accurate and up-to-date data related to the product. This ensures that Walmart has real-time visibility into inventory levels.”

That technology could be used to check whether customers have paid for every item with which they leave a store. It’s the same technology at the base of Amazon Go stores, where customers don’t have to check out at all. They enter using the Amazon app with a credit card on file, pick up what they want and leave.

Theft Numbers That Cannot Be Trusted?

Retail group made a huge reporting mistake from TheStreet

Theft numbers are part of what the industry calls shrink. Some shrink is shoplifting, some is organized retail crime, some comes from employee theft, and items also can be lost in less nefarious ways. An April report from NRF, showed that organized retail crime was a massive part of overall shrink for retailers.

“In the original report, dedicated to organized retail crime and conducted with risk, compliance, investigations and monitoring firm K2 Integrity, the group had said that shrink was $94.5 billion in 2021, ‘nearly half of which was attributable to” organized retail crime, Retail Dive reported.

The problem is that the data used also included shrink from process errors and inventory loss that had nothing to do with crime as well as theft. So, after Retail Dive questioned the data, the NRF updated the report.


Our door greeters let people in all day carrying huge empty backpacks, then let them leave with them stuffed full. Its so hard to get someone to come when you do have an issue…..i called a code white twice one day with zero response… the person got tired of waiting and left. It just seems like nobody gives a crap…….

Financial Impact on Walmart

That’s a ton of shoplifting going on. Must be somewhat of a drag on earnings right? Apparently not and ditto for Costco. Target not so hot…



Walmart theft results

Walmart theft results


Price Performance

Price Performance

As of Jul 01, 2024
Walmart Inc.
Costco Wholesale Corporation
Target Corporation
1 Week
3 Months
1 Year

Smash And Grab

One of the most popular TV media clips are of people doing a “Smash and Grab” and in particular in California.  A few years back Californians reduced those crimes from felonies to misdemeanors but it appears the pendulum may swing back the other way.

Nice article

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Smash-and-Grab Robberies in California: The state has seen a surge in smash-and-grab robberies, where large groups or individuals rush into stores and steal goods1. Since November 18, there have been 11 such incidents in Los Angeles alone, resulting in over $330,000 worth of stolen goods.
  • Response and Advocacy: Retailers and prosecutors are calling for stronger shoplifting laws3. A congressional bill introduced in 2020 aims to require verification of third-party sellers on online marketplaces to combat organized retail crime.
  • Impact and Political Debate: Critics blame progressive policies like Proposition 47 for the rise in thefts. Retailers are feeling the impact, with some stores closing due to crime spikes.
  • Current Laws and Convictions: California law allows prosecution for organized retail theft if someone works with at least one other person to steal items for sale. Convictions can result from flash mobs or more sophisticated crime networks.
Author: Staff Writer

Craig Keefner -- With over 40 years in the industry and technology, Craig is widely considered to be an expert in the field. Major early career kiosk projects include Verizon Bill Pay kiosk and hundreds of others. Craig helped start kioskmarketplace and formed the KMA. Note the point of view here is not necessarily the stance of the Kiosk Association or