Theft by consumers using self-service checkouts is costing retailers £3.2bn every year, new research suggests.
Almost one in four Brits admitted taking at least one item without paying for it during 2017, while almost half of those surveyed admitted to stealing from the checkouts on a regular basis.
The trends have meant that theft from unmanned checkouts has more than doubled over the past three years alone.
According to the survey by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, which was shared with The Times, the £3.2bn haul equates to £5 worth of goods being stolen per Briton every month.
Toiletries, dairy products and fruit and vegetables were among the most common items stolen from stores among more than 2,000 shoppers surveyed.
However, 62% of consumers insisted they had not paid for items because they would not scan or register at the self-service checkouts when they attempted to pay for them.
A further third of people surveyed said they had simply forgotten to pay for goods and only realised when they got home.
But, worryingly for retailers, two fifths of people who took part in the study said they stole items because they knew they could get away with it.
George Charles, from VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, said: “I’m sure most of those who now admit to stealing via self-service checkouts didn’t initially set out to do so. They may have forgotten to scan something and quickly realised how easy it was to take items without scanning them.
“No doubt there’s an element of risk, but when people start stealing it can be difficult to stop, until you get caught, particularly when money might be tight.
“Supermarkets need to increase the number of staff who monitor the self-scan checkouts, even though the point of these checkouts is to reduce the need for staff, as well as increase security.”
There are thought to be 50,000 self-service tills in use across the UK.
Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco operates more than 12,000 of the unmanned machines.
The tills were introduced in the 1990s to add more convenience to the shopping trip and to help retailers reduce costs by reducing their cashier headcount.
Yet studies have shown that shops which use the checkouts suffer almost double the industry average in losses through shoplifting.
Last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the overall number of shoplifting offences had jumped 10% year-on-year.