Annals of Shoplifting – 3 Types of Absurd Retail Fraud

June 10, 2022

Retail crime can take many strange forms.

We’ve been doing some research. In fine-tuning our products to the needs of retailers all over the world we get to speak to frontlines quite a bit. Be they store detectives, sales clerks or store numbers. This means we learn a lot about retail theft.

Big numbers are always a draw and they do have the biggest impact on the bottom line, but we want to talk about the strange, the weird and maybe a bit of the ugly.

1 The Nibbler

Everybody knows it happens, and everybody probably knows one of them. People get hungry within the product aisles and opt to have a quick nibble at a product. Naturally, what has been eaten, can not be payed for. This is also related to an especially weird kind of Self-Checkout ‘fraud’ when the customer we are talking about is in fact an infant. We all know the heartwarming sight of a child getting handed a free sample sausage at the meat counter. If children are not pacified by store staff voluntarily though, people sometimes allow them a quick bite of goods, that have not been paid for yet. Being the kind-hearted humans that they are, their parents will the proceed towards a self-service-terminal with the best intentions of paying for the half-eaten pack of sweets that enabled them to spare their fellow shoppers the cries of a hungry child only to be foiled by a set of scales, that causes the machine to reject their valiant efforts to pay, because the measured weight does not match the weight of the scanned product. This can easily be rectified by store staff of course, but might cause an honest nibbler to turn into a petty thief in the future.

2 The Eternal Returner

Some stores, especially of the hypermarket have long found out, that there is a lot of money to be made with non-food articles. Sometimes, those are offered at higher prices than a nearby electronics store might ask for. Trusted sources have told us that one thrifty individual managed to return a shaving a machine, which he bought at half the price, at a large hypermarket without even being asked for a receipt. One might think this would be a classic case of fool me once, but the offender managed to do so three times per week for an entirety of three weeks before a watchful store detective took note and told staff, to be a little less generous with returns.

3 The Egg-Exchangers

Eggs are sold at very different prices depending on quality and size. This gives some people a nice opportunity to give themselves  a discount, by putting bigger eggs into differently labeled boxes. Unlike most retail crimes, these exchanges are usually performed at off-hours, when the aisles are not fully staffed. Eggs being subject to an expiration date makes this an especially heinous crime in Germany (we can’t speak for other count), despite the fact that the stolen goods might not have been that expensive. If a store is caught selling eggs, that have already been expired, the danger of having acted against the words of the Eierverordnung looms large, which will have them facing serious consequences.

There might be fraud, that poses a larger threat to a store’s EBIT, but these are all (allbeit entertaining) reminders of what store staff need to deal with every single day. That is a very good reason to give them all the tools we can to deal with thieves looking to steal larger amounts of goods in more shocking and brazen ways.

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