Retail Crime pp 99-119 | Cite as

COPS and Robbers: Customer Operated Payment Systems, Self-Service Checkout and the Impact on Retail Crime

  • Emmeline Taylor
Part of the Crime Prevention and Security Management book series (CPSM)


Drawing on a range of international examples, this chapter examines the impact that customer operated payment systems (COPS) are having on the retail industry, and in particular on crime. Organised broadly into four parts, it first provides an overview of new developments in COPS and maps their future trajectory, exploring the emergence of self-service checkout (SCO), scan-as-you-go, and mobile payment systems. It then turns to mapping the known impact on customer theft before outlining some of the key concerns and vulnerabilities about their implementation. The final section considers the future of point of sale (POS) technology, including sensor-based retailing, and the impact on retail crime, providing recommendations to the industry on how to embrace customer autonomy in the age of automation and deliver retail solutions that are cognisant of potential vulnerabilities and risks.


Shrinkage Self-service checkout (SCO) Point of sale (POS) Mobile payment Bricks and mortar stores 


  1. (2017). Amazon Go: Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from
  2. Arnfield, R. (2014). Nearly One in Two U.K. Shoppers Need Help with Self-Service Checkout. Retail Customer Experience. Retrieved September 25, 2015, from
  3. Au, Y. A., & Kauffman, R. J. (2008). The Economics of Mobile Payments: Understanding Stakeholder Issues for an Emerging Financial Technology Application. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 7(2), 141–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Babin, B. J., Darden, W. R., & Griffin, M. (1994). Work and/or Fun: Measuring Hedonic and Utilitarian Shopping Value. Journal of Consumer Research, 20(4), 644–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bamfield, J. (2012). Shopping and Crime. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beck, A. (2011). Self-Scan Checkouts and Retail Loss: Understanding the Risk and Minimising the Threat. Security Journal, 24(3), 199–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beck, A., & Hopkins, M. (2016). Scan and Rob! Convenience Shopping, Crime Opportunity and Corporate Social Responsibility in a Mobile World, The Security Journal [online first].Google Scholar
  8. Bernstein, F., Song, J. S., & Zheng, X. (2008). Bricks-and-Mortar’ vs. ‘Clicks-and-Mortar’: An Equilibrium Analysis. European Journal of Operational Research, 187(3), 671–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. British Retail Consortium. (2014). BRC Retail Crime Survey 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from
  10. British Retail Consortium. (2015). BRC Retail Crime Survey 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from
  11. British Retail Consortium. (2016). BRC Retail Crime Survey 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from
  12. Cameron, M. (1964). The Booster and the Snitch. London: Free Press of Glencoe, Collier Macmillan Ltd.Google Scholar
  13. Carter, C. (2014). Self-Scan Fail: Supermarkets Lose Billions as Thieving Customers Help Themselves. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved December 8, 2015, from
  14. Cisco Systems. (2013). Self-Service Shopping Grows in Popularity. Retrieved June 3, 2015, from
  15. Evans, J., & Dayle, E. (2009). Self-Scanning: Profit or Loss? RILA Auditing and Safety Conference, Orlando, FL.Google Scholar
  16. Francis, D. (1979). Shoplifting: The Crime Everybody Pays for. New York: Elsevier/Nelson Books.Google Scholar
  17. Fullerton, R. A., & Punj, G. (1993). Choosing to Misbehave: A Structural Model of Aberrant Consumer Behavior. Advances in Consumer Research, 20(1), 570–574.Google Scholar
  18. Gill, M. (2007). Shoplifters on Shop Theft: Implications for Retailers. Leicester: Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International (PRCI) Ltd.Google Scholar
  19. Global Retail Theft Barometer. (2015). The New Barometer 2014–2015. Thorofare: Checkpoint Systems Inc. Retrieved December 8, 2015, from
  20. Griffin, R. (1984). Walking Off with Billions. Security Management, 28(5), 70–72.Google Scholar
  21. Groß, M. (2015). Mobile Shopping: A Classification Framework and Literature Review. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 43(3), 221–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harding, E. (2012). How Cheating at Checkouts Is Turning Us into a Nation of Self-Service Shoplifters. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from
  23. Hayes, R., & Cardone, C. (2006). Shoptheft. In M. Gill (Ed.), The Handbook of Security (pp. 302–327). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.Google Scholar
  24. Hechter, M., & Kanazawa, S. (1997). Sociological Rational Choice Theory. Annual Review of Sociology, 23, 191–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Holbrook, M. B., Chestnut, R. W., Oliva, T. A., & Greenleaf, E. A. (1984). Play as a Consumption Experience: The Roles of Emotions, Performance, and Personality in the Enjoyment of Games. Journal of Consumer Research, 11(2), 728–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Home Office. (2015). Crime Against Businesses: Findings from the 2014 Commercial Victimisation Survey. Retrieved May 29, 2015, from
  27. Home Office. (2016). Crime Against Businesses: Findings from the 2015 Commercial Victimisation Survey. Statistical Bulletin 03/16. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from
  28. Hunjan, R. (2016). NSW Police to Crack Down on Shoplifting at Supermarket Self-Service Checkouts. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from
  29. IBM. (2008). Shrink and Self-Checkout: Trends, Technology and Tips. New York: IBM. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from
  30. Krasny J. (2012). Theft Is up to Five Times Higher in Self-Checkout Lanes. Business Insider. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from
  31. Medich, C., Halter, R., Mcglothin, B., Jett, M., Vicente-tamarin, F., Throckmorton, G., et al. (2011). Mobile Retailing Blueprint: A Comprehensive Guide for Navigating the Mobile Landscape. A Joint White Paper Sponsored by the National Retail Federation, National Retail Federation. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from
  32. Orel, F. D., & Kara, A. (2013). Supermarket Self-Checkout Service Quality, Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty: Empirical Evidence from an Emerging Market. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 21(2), 118–129.Google Scholar
  33. Repetto, T. A. (1976). Crime Prevention and the Displacement Phenomenon. Crime and Delinquency, 22(1), 166–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Retail Banking Research. (2015). Global EPOS and Self-Checkout 2014. London: Retail Banking Research. Retrieved December 8, 2015, from
  35. Schwartz, S., & Wood, H. V. (1991). Clinical Assessment and Intervention with Shoplifters. Social Work, 36(3), 234–238.Google Scholar
  36. Simms, P. (2012). Shopping Is Getting More Stressful! Self-Service Checkouts Ranked as More Infuriating than Cold Callers and Junk Mail. MailOnline. Retrieved May 30, 2015, from
  37. Sykes, G. M., & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of Neutralization: A Theory of Delinquency. American Sociological Review, 22(6), 664–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Taylor, E. (2014). Honour Among Thieves? Exploring the Morality and Rationality of Convicted Domestic Burglars. Criminology and Criminal Justice: An International Journal, 14(4), 487–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Taylor, E. (2016a). Supermarket Self-Checkouts and Retail Theft: The Curious Case of the SWIPERS. Criminology and Criminal Justice; An International Journal, 16(5), 552–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Taylor, E. (2016b). Mobile Payment Technologies in Retail: A Review of Potential Benefits and Risks. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 44(2), 159–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Taylor, E. (2016c). On the Edge of Reason? Affective Transgression, Bounded Rationality and Armed Robbery, Deviant Behavior [online first].Google Scholar
  42. Tesco. (2017). What Is Scan as you Shop? Retrieved January 6, 2017, from
  43. Tuck, M., & Riley, D. (1986). The Theory of Reasoned Action: A Decision Theory of Crime. In D. B. Cornish & R. V. Clarke (Eds.), The Reasoning Criminal (pp. 156–167). New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. White, M. C. (2013). Do-It-Yourself Checkout: Love It or Hate It, Barcode Scanning Is in Your Future. Time. Retrieved December 8, 2015, from
  45. Williams, H., Forst, B., & Hamilton, E. (1987). Stop, Should you Arrest that Person? Security Management, September, 52–58.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emmeline Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.City, University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations