Just because Walmart’s self-checkout registers aren’t physically manned by employees don’t mean they aren’t being observed.
The self-checkout stations that have become commonplace at all Walmarts — including the one in Oneida — are becoming increasingly popular with shoplifters who see self-checkout as a way to sneak merchandise out of the store without paying for it.
But as Oneida police prosecute a growing number of theft cases involving Walmart shoplifters, it has become clear that attempting to sneak merchandise through self-checkout without paying for it involves a substantial risk.
Last week, an Ohio couple were charged following a shoplifting incident at the store.
Anthony Troy Stephens, 47, and Audrey Nicole Sissel, 33, both of Portsmouth, Oh., were charged by Oneida Police Department on Nov. 22 after allegedly attempting to steal merchandise from the store by way of self-checkout.
According to affidavits filed by OPD Officer Tony Jones, Stephens and Sissel were spotted in the self-checkout intentionally placing items in bags without scanning them for purchase. The alleged thefts were captured on video surveillance.
When Jones arrived at the store, he questioned both Stephens and Sissel, and they allegedly admitted that they had attempted to steal the merchandise.
Because the couple were forthcoming with police, they were not arrested. But they will still be required to appear in court to answer to misdemeanor theft charges, which can carry a jail sentence of up to one year, along with a $2,500 fine.
According to the affidavit, the Ohio couple’s shoplifting attempt was a high-risk, low-reward venture. The items they allegedly attempted to steal included an LED work light, a bottle of transmission fluid, a pair of athletic shoes and a pair of shoestrings. The total value of all the items was only $67.07.
Just three days earlier, a Kentucky woman was arrested for attempting to steal items from the store in a similar fashion.
Crystal Muse, 43, of Williamsburg, Ky., was charged with misdemeanor theft on Nov. 19 by OPD Officer Rachael Thomas.
However, Muse was not forthcoming with police in the same way as Stephens and Sissel, and she was arrested and taken to jail.
In that case, Muse was accused of loading two buggies full of merchandise and going through self-checkout, where she paid for some items and didn’t pay for others. Muse claimed that she either forgot to scan the items or the scan button was not working. Later, she allegedly told Thomas that she didn’t know why she had stolen the items because she had money to pay for them, and apologized.
The total value of the items allegedly stolen by Muse was $163.24.
While anyone caught shoplifting by Walmart is prosecuted and faces criminal charges, they’re also banned from all Walmart stores — meaning if they’re spotted inside one, they can be arrested for criminal trespassing.