Failing to scan items at self-checkout


I experienced a very unnerving situation yesterday at the supermarket in Stockholm. I paid for my things (around 10 basic grocery items) at the self-scan, and when leaving the shop the alarm went. A security guard asked me to open my bag and show the receipt and apparently I didn't pay for three items (value 60:-, I paid 100:-). I told him there must be some kind of mistake, I passed every item over the scanner and didn't realise something didn't scan. I asked if I could just pay for the missing things at the cashier, but he told me to follow him to the back room of the store, not explaining anything, but asking for my ID. The situation was very stressful, he was quite aggressive and repeating over and over that I 'stole' from the shop. It didn't seem to matter that I tried to explain that it really wasn't my intention. He filled out a report and I got my ID back, and in the end I paid for the other items and left the store, really upset and feeling very misunderstood. I understand I should have checked before my receipt to make sure everything was paid for, which I didn't do - but to be pointed as a thief seems quite exaggerated. What will happen now?

Lawline svarar


Thank you for your question!

Firstly, I am going to give some general information about self-checkouts in Sweden, which might be useful.

General information about self-checkouts
To prevent people from stealing when using self-scanners or self-checkouts in supermarkets, shops usually do random controls (screenings) of customers to verify that the customer has paid for all of her or his items. Shops usually handles one or two missing items as a result of the human factor, and not as attempted theft. The value of the items not scanned is of course of significance. In cases like these, the shop can "flag" the customer, resulting in more frequent controls of the customer when he or she uses the self-scan. After some time, when the customer has passed a number of screenings, the shop will cease to do these screenings.

Attempted theft and petty theft
In the following I will be using terms more commonly known to describe Swedish law rather than using specific legal terms to prevent misunderstandings.

Theft and petty theft is regulated in The Swedish Penal Code (Swedish: Brottsbalken, link in Swedish here). If the value of the stolen items is below 1000 kr, the crime falls under petty theft. From what you've described, it seems that your actions doesn't match what the law constitutes as a completed petty theft. In a shop or supermarket, where customers freely are allowed to pick out their goods, petty theft is completed when passing the area with cashiers and self-checkouts without paying. Attempted petty theft isn't punishable by Swedish law. It is therefore a strong probability that you haven't committed a crime.

It is unfortunate that you experienced such a situation due to a mistake. To remember is that the shop possibly "flagged" you, so that you'll be subjected to more frequent screenings. If you object to this inconvenience, you could speak to the shop. There could for example have been an error with the bar-code and/or the scanner itself, which would mean that there wasn't any negligence on your part.

I hope this answers your question!

With regards

Amanda BlombergRådgivare
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