Monday, November 28, 2022

Avoid self-checkouts, lawyer warns, or it could cost you ‘thousands’

Using a self-service checkout counter could get you charged with stealing, a lawyer warned on social media.

Lawyer and influencer Carrie Jernigan, who often shares legal advice with her 1.2 million TikTok followers, has alleged that stores are using cash register security footage to accuse innocent customers of theft.

“As a criminal defense attorney, I advise most people to avoid self-paying,” Jernigan says in a video that has racked up more than 2 million views.

The attorney says there are “three groups” of people accused of shoplifting using self-checkout.

The first group are those “with the intent to steal.” Although sophisticated thieves still get away with it, weight sensors and cameras have made stealing more difficult.

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Attorney Carrie Jernigan Says To Stay Away From Drive-Thru Lanes.
“Truly innocent” people using self-checkout could be charged with stealing items they legitimately purchased or never picked up, Jernigan said.
Left: Getty Images; Right: @carr

The second category is called the “theft by mistake” group. “These are the people that I really think just forgot to scan an item,” he continued, listing examples like accidentally leaving something in the bottom of the shopping cart or something. Despite the potentially innocent mishap, these people frequently face charges, “because … big box stores aren’t going to spend their time and resources trying to figure out if he did it on purpose,” Jernigan said.

The third group are the people he called “truly innocent”.

“Most of these are not charged the day of,” he explained. Rather, his situation begins when someone in a store’s asset protection department starts counting inventory, perhaps days, weeks, or months, and “then falls short.”

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“So they’ll start watching hours of video to see the last person who came out with the Lego Mario game because it’s two shorts or one Xbox game. And, for whatever reason, they point out that they think you did it,” he explained.

According to Jernigan, mega-retailers like Walmart typically have to present very little evidence to obtain an affidavit of warrants for the charges.

“The charges that could take you up to a year in jail,” he warned. “You have to spend thousands of dollars to hire an attorney and we have to go through grainy video footage to try to determine what you bought that day.”

Jernigan urged people to pay by card for larger purchases and always keep proof of purchase.

The Post has contacted Walmart for comment on its assessment.

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