Self-checkout theft or “skip scanning” has become a common basis to allege shoplifting in Texas. This occurs when a customer doesn’t scan all the items that make it into their bags at self-checkout. You may also see this charge if a person scans a bar code of an item of similar weight and then places a more expensive, similarly-weighted item in the bag to avoid detection by the scales under the bagging area. This form of shoplifting has become increasingly more common in Fort Worth and Texas, and retailers are cracking down. Here’s a look at the skip scanning charges, the consequences, and real-life examples of people arrested for self checkout theft.
What is self checkout theft?
Skip scanning is a self-checkout theft technique that has gained in popularity in recent years. It occurs when a customer pretends to scan an item before putting it in a bag or basket or uses a bar code from an item of lesser value and quickly bags the more expensive item. The crime is considered shoplifting/theft, which can be a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on the amount of the theft.
Are there slang terms for self-checkout theft or skip scanning?
Self-checkout theft is so common that there are actually terms for this kind of shoplifting. Not scanning an item is called “the pass around.” Scanning something expensive using the code for a cheap product is the “banana trick.” Peeling off the sticker on something cheap and putting it on a more expensive item is referred to as the “switcheroo.”
What is the punishment for self checkout theft?
The punishment for skip scanning in Texas depends upon the value of the property stolen and how the scheme was carried out. For example, if the accused failed to scan items, then the punishment will be based on the total value of the stolen property. In other words, the value of all the items can be added together or aggregated to determine the level or charge and penalty you face:
- Less than $100 – Class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $500 fine
- $100 to $750 – Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and maximum $2000 fine.
- $750 to $2,500 – Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine.
- $2,500 to $30,000 – State jail felony punishable by up to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.
- $30,000 to $150,000 – Third degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine
- $150,000 to $300,000 – Second degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine
- Above $300,000 – First degree felony punishable by up to life in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
If the scheme was carried out by scanning something expensive by using the code for a less expensive product, or by putting a cheaper sticker on a more expensive item, then the punishment depends on the difference between the price marked and the price paid. For example:
- Class C misdemeanor if the difference between the price marked and the price paid is less than $100.
- Class B misdemeanor if the difference between the price marked and the price paid is between $100 and $750. .
- Class A misdemeanor if the difference between the price marked and the price paid is between $750 and $2,500.
- State jail felony if the difference between the price marked and the price paid is between $2,500 and $30,000.
- Third-degree felony if the difference between the price marked and the price paid is between $30,000 and $150,000.
- Second-degree felony if the difference between the price marked and the price paid is between $150,000 and $300,000.
- First-degree felony if the difference between the price marked and the price paid exceeds $300,000.
What are some real-life examples of skip scanning charges in Texas?
- In February 2020, two women were arrested in Wichita Falls for allegedly stealing multiple items from Walmart. According to police, the women would scan one item in the self-checkout areas but bag several other items along with it. The total amount of stolen items was $200.70.
- In June 2020, the executive director of the Marion Chamber of Commerce in Jefferson was arrested after she was observed bagging multiple items at Walmart without scanning them. Police said the amount of the merchandise was $468.73. The defendant claimed she mistakenly forgot to scan two packages of Coke.
- In October 2020, a now-former Brownsville police officer was arrested after she was seen picking up a decorative basket in Target valued at $29.99 and tearing off a tag from a smaller decorative basket valued at $12.99 and scanning the lower tag at a self-checkout register. Learn more about price tag switching charges.
Charged with self checkout theft in Fort Worth?
If you are a loved one is facing skip scanning charges in Fort Worth or North Texas, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We can help. Our team has decades of experience and has successfully defended all kinds of theft accusations in North Texas.
From time to time, we see people charged with skip scanning when it truly was a mistake. Prosecutors must prove that the accused intended to deprive the store owner of the stolen item, which we can challenge in certain cases. We also often see young, first-time offenders charged with self checkout theft, and we have been successful getting them into diversion programs that have resulted in a dismissal. Every case is unique. Call today for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.