A teenager has been jailed after being caught trying to buy a Playstation for €9
A European teenager faces jail time for attempting to walk out of a store having paid a tiny amount for a Playstation, according to local news reports.
The 19-year-old only described as Adel, who lives in Monbéliard in France, was able to walk out of a supermarket with a Playstation 4 for just €9, €330 lower than the retail price, by weighing it as fruit at a self checkout and using that sticker to walk through without complication.
The teenager had pulled off the trick back in September, but was only caught when he tried to repeat the trick the very next day. Adel had then sold the games console for €100, which he used to buy a train ticket to his hometown Nice, but his plan was foiled by police, who arrested him at the store.
At a magistrates court in Montbeliard, Adel was sentenced to four months in prison for his crimes, but he did not appear in person for the hearing. It was a daring caper, but thanks to the advent of self-checkout machines, it may not be a rare occurrence.
This is according to a study from the University of Leicester which says that self checkouts "generate significantly high rates of loss" and can even be seen to encourage stealing, as potential thieves don't have to confront other humans to get away with things.
Professor Adrian Beck, one of the authors of the study, goes into more detail.
"From the retailers’ perspective, the benefits seem obvious – less investment required in staff and checkout technologies, with the former being the biggest expense they face.
For the shopper it could mean the end of checkout queues as product scanning and payment can in theory be performed anywhere in the store at their convenience.
To borrow a well-warn Top Gear phrase, ‘what could possibly go wrong’? Well, our research found that quite a bit could and does go wrong, with some potentially rather worrying long term consequences."
Along with giving potential thieves more incentive to steal, self-checkouts also offer more solutions for anybody caught red-handed, with Beck's report stating that such a machine machine "gives offenders 'ready-made excuses' for non-scanning behaviour".
"Retailers could find themselves accused of making theft so easy that some customers who would normally - and happily - pay are tempted to commit crime, especially when they feel ‘justified’ in doing it," the report explained. But it's not all doom and gloom - Dr Beck says that businesses are aware of the issues, and doing their best to combat them.
"Retailers are becoming aware of these problems and introducing ways of ‘amplifying’ risk in the mobile scan and pay environment, trying to ensure that all that ends up in the basket also makes it onto the receipt."
"All innovations in retailing are a business choice – hopefully done to make the shopper happier and the business more profitable," concluded Dr Beck, but Adel's daring Playstation theft shows that the system can be gamed.