SHOPPERS who cheat self-checkout tills by swapping expensive items for cheap ones could be caught by new tech replacements.
The Times has found that a new device could save supermarkets £500million in fraud.
Even though self-scanning tills are a more cost-effective alternative than tills with a cashier for supermarkets, they're leading to an increase in theft.
It's emerged that some shoppers have started swapping more expensive items for cheaper ones – like potatoes in place of champagne or onions in place of avocados.
The growing trend is now setting supermarkets back £500million a year.
Retail experts said that new technology is being tested to clamp down on thieves.
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These devices will be able to tell if an item in the bagging area is not the right size, shape or colour.
The devices will also pick up on unusual activity from a shopper.
For example, most shoppers will only buy one bag of potatoes but if somebody scans six, the till will alert a member of staff.
The current systems only work on weight, so they're more easy to manipulate with simple product swaps.
Items most commonly stolen are toiletries and fresh produce.
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Professor Emmeline Taylor, who specialises in retail crime at City, University of London, told the Sunday Times: "Self service has created a new breed of shoplifter.
"Rather than seeing it as problematic, they get a buzz from it or see it as funny or socially acceptable in a way that you wouldn’t if you stole a piece of cheese from Tesco.
"I heard about one customer who cut off the barcode from noodles, because they are cheap and he knew the weight of them, and glued it to their watch.
"He would scan that barcode and cover up the code on a packet of cheese or chicken of the same weight."
One survey by Myfavouritevouchercodes found that one in three people have stolen from self-checkout systems this year alone, albeit sometimes unintentionally.
Of the 2,000 people it surveyed, most blamed forgetting to bring cash, not scanning the barcode properly or struggling with the cost of living.
Theft is classed as a criminal offence by the Crown Prosecution Service. The maximum sentence for theft is seven years' custody, but that depends on what's been stolen.
It might just be a fine for shoplifting, but that could still set you back up to £200.
There are always ways to find cheap supermarket deals or pay less for food, if you find you're struggling.
For example, meal-prepping could save you up to 50% on your shopping bill if you knuckle down and come up with a routine.
There are plenty of stores, too, which understand the cost of living crisis and have plenty of deals going in order to help out – you can read a few of them here.
And thousands of households could even get a summer supermarket voucher – you can learn how to claim here.
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Click here to read more about getting free Tesco cafe food this summer.
And here's some top money-saving hacks from a supermarket expert to help keep you from splashing the cash for a while.
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