An unsettling change is on the way for Woolworths shoppers, with the supermarket rolling out another measure to deter thieves at self-serve check-outs.
An unsettling change is on the way for Woolworths shoppers, with the supermarket rolling out another measure to deter thieves at self-serve check-outs.

Big creepy change coming to supermarket check-outs

Shoppers are having their images beamed on to supermarket self-serve checkout screens, in a reminder Big Brother is watching.

The security measure - rolled out at Woolworths stores - comes amid concern self-serve check-outs are a hotbed for thieves.

The supermarket giant last year turned on weigh scales at the machines' bagging areas to catch out those deliberately or mistakenly taking home products they hadn't paid for.

A Woolworths spokesman told the Sunday Herald Sun the image shoppers could now see of themselves on some checkout screens was "a digital reflection" and not recorded or stored.

Only the customers themselves, Woolies assistants or other shoppers walking by could see the reflected image, before it disappeared forever, he said.

The only point of the Big Brother-type technology was to flag to customers they were being watched, Woolworths confirmed.

"We know the vast majority of our customers do the right thing at our self-serve check-outs. This is a new security measure we're trialling for those that don't," the spokesman said.

"Our stores have staffed checkout lanes for customers who would prefer not to take part in the trial."

Research shows just the thought of being watched is often enough to deter thieves, and supermarkets also have security cameras strategically positioned throughout stores.

It's understood Woolworths was careful to ensure its new checkout cameras could not view the PIN pad when customers were paying, and the technology was compliant with payment card security standards.

Coles confirmed it was also "trialling new security technology" at check-outs in some of its Victorian stores.

"While the large majority of our customers do the right thing, it's not fair that a small number of people get away with doing the wrong thing," a Coles spokeswoman said.

"Like a number of retailers, we work with police to reduce shoplifting.

"There are also trained covert security officers in our stores nationally and they're catching hundreds of thieves every week and reporting them to police."

More than eight million transactions were made through Coles self-serve check-outs every week, she said.

Originally published as Big change coming to Woolies self-serve check-outs


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