Walmart Employee EXPOSES What They Do, TikTok Goes Viral
Now more than ever, retailers are asking shoppers to become self-sufficient . . . (Customer) Can you just scan it for me? (Employee) You’re gonna have to scan it yourself. It’s self-checkout.
And some customers have treated this responsibility as an invitation to add a little something extra to their bags— at a fraction of the price. But even in understaffed stores, shoppers aren’t as alone as they assume . . . As someone— or something— oversees every purchase . . . They can zoom in so far on the cameras that they can literally read your text messages if they really wanted to. But this new technology is scaring customers . . .
and people are protesting to ban it. Companies claim they won't use it, but is this really the case? With some people they play the long game. Customers are mad at the extremes put in place.
I would have to call a manager just to get a pack of toothpaste. Is this how retailers should be treating their valued customers? We’re all gonna pay for this. There’s one major problem that comes with analyzing crimes— and that’s the failure to acknowledge how delinquency evolves. Take shoplifting for example— once seen simply as an act of teenage rebellion, compulsion, or necessity, that in recent years, has morphed into something new. Whether it’s an Apple Store ransacked for $35,000 worth of products in Silicon Valley, 20 tons of chocolate loaded into a refrigerated trailer in Germany, or uncanny amounts of cheese nabbed twice in one year from Wisconsin— this new breed of shoplifter appears to be just as unphased by the law as they are by stereotypes. But of course, not every shoplifting expedition is a 77-year-old man pulling off a $300,000 Beanie Baby heist or criminals dressed in drag robbing a Harry Winston out of $108 million in jewelry.
No, these days shoplifting is an equal-opportunity sport that can entice customers from all walks of life to cram their baskets or carts in their own personal game of Supermarket Sweeps . . . Every shopper has his own strategy and Jeff wants to start his sweep with Farmer John hams. Or influence shoppers to engage with the crime on a more casual level.
After all, with a wealth of shoplifting hacks circulating online, the occasional five-finger discount has become more normalized than ever. But customers might want to think twice before they take part in the trend that’s left shelves scant . . . Because when it comes to scanning premium-priced items for Pringles prices at the self-checkout . . . *beeping* Or undermining loss prevention measures . . .
Yeah, I got you. I got you on camera. You on candid camera now. As scare-tactics or challenges that require creative solutions. . . Even thieves who feel they’re above the law can find themselves facing serious legal consequences.
And while recent innovations in retail might make customers feel more inclined to pocket a freebie here or there— somebody’s always watching. At self-checkout, it’s easy for shoppers to feel alone. The method for scanning items that was meant to put an end to customer complaints of long checkout lanes and understaffing has only prompted further criticism as shoppers find themselves doing unpaid labor— minus the benefits.
(Customer) How do you want me to scan this fruit? (Employee) You’re gonna have to look up the code. (Customer) You can’t just tell me the code? (Employee) It’s self-checkout. And like airplane food or the DMV, the dissatisfying nature of one chain’s self-checkout has inspired its own brand of inside jokes. “Walmart: Investing in American Jobs.”
Here I am checking out my own self. I didn’t get no cheque. Wonder if I’mma get invited to the staff party. This humor often riffs off one key element in Walmart’s self-checkout experience: the company’s loss protection measures.
From self-deprecating skits about Walmart’s security cameras that force shoppers to come face-to-face with themselves under harsh fluorescent lighting . . . *Crying* What if that was my last straw? That makes some second-guess what they thought they knew about themselves . . . I know for a fact I don’t look like this in real life.
Why do I look like this? To assuming these cameras are just for show. But perhaps customers who believe what they do at self-checkout is between themselves and Walmart’s prop security measure. . . F—ing little tattle-tail rat! Okay, anyway . . . you’re a rodent. Should adjust their gaze slightly upwards. At least, that’s what TikTok user Aubrey did when she entered a Myrtle Beach Walmart in 2022, and what she saw stunned her enough to take out her phone and start recording a video.
The now viral TikTok exposed Walmart’s anti-theft technology displayed on a monitor in the store, circling and highlighting shoppers in yellow as they went about their errands. Viewers were disturbed by the Orwellian lengths the company had gone to, as one user questioned: And another grimly commented: But some users were still dubious. After all, how advanced could security be at a store that still didn't offer Apple Pay? It was clear the TikTok wasn’t going to dissuade shoppers who were intent on securing themselves an employee discount at the self-checkout.
As one user boldly announced: Still, Aubrey explained the severity of what she had captured for those who were unconvinced or confused as to what exactly they were looking at. And for those customers who believed they’d gotten away with shoplifting, Aubrey suggested they reconsider before testing their luck a second time. The TikTok user insisted that she had no reason to lie, considering she didn’t work for the store.
And when the Daily Dot reached out to Aubrey about her TikTok, she informed the news source that while this Walmart location showcased their technology, every location was different with what they shared with customers. the TikTok user said. And while the claim about Walmart waiting to prosecute shoplifters for felonies remains unverified, when it came to the company’s advancements in technology it appeared Aubrey was onto something. In 2019 Insider reported AI technology was used at self-checkouts and cash registers in over 1,000 Walmart locations to notify checkout attendants when items went unscanned. However, Walmart's use of AI dates back further than most realize.
By 2015 Walmart began using a facial recognition system to alert security to suspected shoplifters Fortune reported. You may have noticed this as you walk in a Walmart and see yourself on the big TV screen— they’re scanning your face and comparing it to faces on their database of offenders. And while the images of innocent shoppers supposedly aren’t stored by the AI, the idea of having a “faceprint” is a point of contention amongst the American public.
In 2021 over 35 civil liberty organizations rallied together to condemn the non-consensual use of facial recognition technology in stores across the US. And along with Lowes, Target, and others, Walmart penciled themselves in as “won’t use.” The assumption was the company had abandoned facial recognition and pivoted focus to AI that captured unscanned items instead.
However, in 2022 the chain was hit with a class action lawsuit that alleged a Walmart in Illinois had used facial recognition software on customers on multiple occasions over the past three years. While Walmart denied this, if the allegation is true this goes against the state’s Biometric Privacy Act. But even without facial recognition, Walmart’s advancements in anti-theft technology have flourished. Yet amid self-checkout hacks and shoplifting jokes online, would shoppers hear the warnings sounding off across social media before it was too late? Stop stealing from Walmart self-checkout. We’re able to see everything you’re purchasing, how much your total purchase is, and how much each item costs.
Legally or illegally, we gon get that money. One TikTok user claimed that not only did new security technology prevent theft, at least one Walmart location put shoplifters on display. Walmart has these new cameras right above the cashiers. One thing goes wrong and your face pops up on these screens. The slightest hand movement that looks like you’re stealing, that camera catches it and then it puts it on the screen.
But even without the public shaming, self-checkout isn't as private as it appears. We can see everything you scan. So you are not sneaky.
If you go in there and scan your stuff and it appears that you have missed scanning an item. The self-checkout attendant has to come and review the camera footage on your register. They’re gonna review it and see if you stole something.
*laughing* And while the comment section on a since-deleted TikTok from a Walmart employee suggested that shoppers were skeptical over how actively Walmart employees monitor these devices . . . “Lol they don’t even be looking at the handheld, they be running they mouth in the corner while I’m doing *laughs* while I’m doing a buy one get one free sale. *laughs* “Next thing I’m gonna steal is one of those things.”
It’s possible for shoplifters to be outsmarted without knowing they were caught in the first place. So how does this work? Well, have you ever been scanning your items at self-checkout when the machine suddenly crashes? Sure, this could just be your run-of-the-mill malfunction— or perhaps, the glitch was intentional. See, allegedly, Walmart workers can pause transactions at self-checkout when they notice suspicious activity, as a former employee explained on TikTok.
On these Walmart TC devices we have the option to pause your self-checkout at any point and pretend that there’s something wrong with the machine if we suspect that you’re stealing. But from the customer's end, it simply looks like their self-checkout machine crashed. Once we hit the pause transaction button, your self-checkout’s going to look something like this. If it’s not something like this then your screen will be frozen where it’s at and it won’t let you scan any more items. And suddenly, the customer that was possibly looking for discretion is forced to ask for assistance, summoning an employee that is all too eager to play technician— even if it’s just pretend.
Basically we click that thing that has the key and we lift it up and we pretend that we’re looking at the machine to see if there’s something wrong with it. And when the employee finds the machine, which was never broken, is beyond fixing, any scheme the customer had of giving themselves a discount on their purchase has been foiled. They’ll take everything out of the bags and they’ll be like, “Don’t worry, we’ll ring you up at another machine. There must be something wrong with this one.” And at that point they’ll just take you to a main checkout where there’s an actual person to cash you out.
Of course, employees can’t notice everything— that’s where security cameras come into play. Walmarts security room looks a little something like this. It’s a bunch of computers and it shows you every aisle and they have pinch and zoom cameras that are 360, meaning that they can literally turn anywhere in the store. And this technology can get invasive . . . quickly. They can zoom in so far . . .
on the cameras that they can literally read your text messages if they really wanted to. But is this degree of surveillance really necessary? Surely the largest private employer in America isn’t going to fold because of an unscanned item from time to time. Well, this may be true, if shoplifting were just a minor issue for the company. However, the level of theft that Walmart has recently been hit with isn’t just small potatoes— it’s a full-blown epidemic. In December 2022, the retailer’s CEO Doug McMillon told CNBC that the latest uptick in shoplifting would require drastic action if law enforcement continued to exercise leniency on these crimes. If that’s not corrected over time, prices will be higher, and/or stores will close.
However raising prices or diminishing access wouldn’t punish unpaying customers, but those who rely on the discounted merchandise Walmart is known for. Everything's gone up, gasoline, taxes, and food. In the world of retail, the term for what’s happening is shrinkage— when the items available in store are fewer than what’s in inventory.
In 2022 the National Retail Federation reported the average shrink rate across retailers was 1.4%. That’s $94.5 billion in losses— almost four billion more than the previous year. Fox News correspondent Stuart Varney cited this recent upswing in shoplifting as a cultural shift in the way the American people viewed theft as not a crime, but a reclamation of what they were entitled to. If this is the new morality, you can count me out.
However, his view on legislation . . . It’s okay to take up to 950 bucks worth of necessities in California. That’s just an invitation to steal. Wasn’t entirely accurate. For example, in California shoplifting goods worth less than $950 is a misdemeanor whereas stealing merchandise worth over that amount is classified as a felony.
And according to some alleged ex-employees of big retailers, some locations are watching you more closely than others, for a really long time. They will continue letting you steal, all the while they are documenting the value amount of every single item that you are stealing and they will wait. They wait until you’re thousands and thousands of dollars worth in debt.
You know, federal crime level. In jail behind bars. They will do anything to do that. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to petty theft.
Both a misdemeanor and a felony can result in jail time. For a misdemeanor this can be up to 364 days behind bars and for a felony this can be three years. And while it would be impossible for law enforcement to prosecute every instance of petty theft, police presence was upped at Walmart locations in California to deter theft during the 2022 holiday season.
For thieves the message is that we’ll be out there. We’re being vigilant and we know it’s that time of the season which a lot of shoppers are out there but we’re gonna be out there as well. But while the case of a 17-year-old dressed as a Walmart employee stealing $30,000 from three separate store locations in 2013 proved it’s not impossible for individuals to leave their mark on the retail business, lone perpetrators are rarely the problem. The increase is in organized retail theft, when a large group goes into a store to take a lot of merchandise all at once and leave in a hurry and that’s happening at stores like Walmart.
Organized crime networks were responsible for the billions of losses retailers suffered in 2022. And with these thieves increasingly threatening or resorting to violence, they’ve become a danger to employees and customers alike— as the story of an 83-year-old Home Depot employee passing away weeks after coming into contact with a shoplifter suspected of being part of one of these networks made painfully clear. And it seems Walmart has already started taking steps to remedy their losses, as the company has begun closing stores. It’s kind of crazy.
You don’t hear of things like Walmart closing. Walmart? And as former customers mourned the loss of the chain's bargain deals . . . This is a big hit to the community because, I mean, Walmart has great prices honestly. Those too were disappearing. TikToker amywaytosave is known for posting videos that teach viewers how to shop on a budget. But this January, Amy diverted from her typical content to test rumors of inflation by comparing an old shopping haul . . .
Towards the end of 2020 I went to Walmart and I purchased all of these things for $10 and nine cents and I made a week's worth of meals for one person. With the price of the same products in 2022 . . . And they cost me about 10% more. And 2023. Now they cost $15 and 10 cents, which is about 50% more than the prices at the end of 2020. One comment surmised viewer reaction: And as these recent changes suggest, Walmart's loss prevention strategy hasn’t brought an end to shoplifting.
In fact, in 2020 concerned Walmart corporate workers contacted WIRED to complain about the company’s AI system, which they believed was doing harm to innocent people. Walmart started using the program from AI firm Everseen in 2017, but while the technology made big claims . . . Everseen overcomes human limitations. By using state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, computer vision systems, and big data we can detect abnormal activity and other threats.
Of a near dystopian nature . . . Our digital eye has perfect vision, and it never needs a coffee break or a day off. It appeared security didn’t have to worry about AI making their jobs obsolete just yet. The workers told WIRED Everseen, However, if the retailer’s recent leaps in theft prevention are any indication, shoppers appear to be the last thing on Walmart’s mind. From putting customer’s purchases on display . . .
It shows the picture y’all, of whatchu scanning. So y’all motherf—ers the be putting different tags on, it’s a wrap. To machines flashing when shoppers miss scanning an item . . . To taking the “self” in self-checkout to a whole other level . . . And you gotta use these.
They don’t even scan them no more. Alleged changes rolling out at Walmart locations make it clear pleasing customers is no longer the company's biggest consideration. And as Walmart continues taking security to new extremes . . . [Employee] Alright make sure you scan it.
[Customer] Okay, thanks— [Employee] Seriously scan it. It’s always something in motherf—ing Walmart. They got the locks on the mascara. Every time you go to Walmart, if you choose to use the self-checkout lane, you are risking your freedom. Other companies have started engaging in similar practices.
With theft-prevention carts that lock their wheels after exiting the store’s perimeters, tying items in spider wraps that set off alarms when stolen, or keeping video games tethered to displays, there’s an endless amount of ways to prevent theft. But the biggest one you’ve likely seen is finding your everyday objects behind a glass wall. I asked the lady to get me that mascara out and she did. But instead of handing it to me she like, “Hold on, hold on, hold on.
I gotta give you something.” Why she give me the f—ing mascara in this box? Don’t nobody wanna steal this punk a— mascara. I would have to call a manager just to get a pack of toothpaste.
As shoplifters continue to use retail stores as their playground. . . It’s just too much anymore. You know, it’s just gotten out of control. That looks great. The theft is just out of control. People are filling up their shopping carts and just walking out of the store.
Wow, just walk out with the stuff. The need for these businesses to curb theft and prevent further losses has called for drastic changes. Who knew Colgate and Crest needed security like a Cartier diamond? But as increased security comes at the expense of a seamless shopping experience . . . Why are places like Target stopping us from taking our $500 worth of stuff to our car? Like, now have to somehow carry it all the way over there? It’s like, I don’t even know where my car is. Are big box retailers simply lending a hand in digging their own graves? Big Lots confirmed to us they are closing down in January.
Three neighborhoods are about to lose their pharmacies. Doors are closing at the only two Portland Walmarts. This is the story of retail shoplifting, the pretty crime that’s become a serious problem.