Stealing at Self-Checkout

Don’t make up your own morals: Be a moron like me.
From the April 2018 Trumpet Print Edition

When you go grocery shopping, do you have to fight urges to steal? What holds you back from just walking out of the store without paying for your foodstuffs? I don’t recall ever feeling those urges, but at least one of my fellow shoppers says this makes me a “moron.”

Apparently many shoppers are paying for their groceries only because someone is making them do so. How do we know? Because now that self-checkout lanes are becoming common, more people are shoplifting.

A recent University of Leicester study audited 1 million self-checkout transactions over a full year and found that out of $21 million in sales, people shoplifted almost $850,000 worth of goods. In one survey, nearly 1 in 5 people admitted that they use the self-checkout lane to steal stuff.

These facts come from “The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery” in the Atlantic, an eye-opening look at the shenanigans that are now commonplace, such as ringing up pricey cuts of meat with codes for cheap ones, and stuffing banana bunches with unpaid-for extras. Some of these scams require real ingenuity and effort; others, apparently, aren’t terribly difficult to execute.

Some people suggest that stores actually encourage theft by making it so easy. The Atlantic wrote, “In their zeal to cut labor costs, the [Leicester] study said, supermarkets could be seen as having created ‘a crime-generating environment’ that promotes profit ‘above social responsibility’” (March 2018). So apparently these thefts aren’t the fault of the thieves, but of the store owners!

Some people have come to view theft at self-checkout as some kind of right. The Atlantic quoted one shopper commenting online: “Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self-checkout is a total moron. There is no moral issue with stealing from a store that forces you to use self-checkout, period. They are charging you to work at their store” (emphasis his). This individual reasons that he is entitled to steal at least half of the items in his cart because of the 2½ minutes he spends at self-checkout.

This is where “who’s to say what’s right or wrong?” leads. Isn’t moral relativism grand? What a nice world it is when people can make up their own rules and feel justified in exacting whatever they deem “fair wages” for the labor they perform for greedy store owners.

The thief in the self-checkout line, the flash mobs at the convenience stores, the people rioting and looting stores apparently soothe their consciences by thinking, These stores are owned by rich people who oppress poor people. That practically makes me Robin Hood. I am an executor of social justice.

Lawlessness always has a price, in this case literally. The more people steal, the more stores have to raise their prices. All the law-keeping “morons” pay for the moral-relativist thieves.

America’s founders said the system of freedom they established would work only for a moral people. Only if people governed themselves by strict moral standards would this society work. French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in 1831, and he could not believe how much freedom Americans had. He recognized that what made it possible was religion. “Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs,” he wrote. “It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom ….”

The reality is, once you lose religion, you lose morality—and ultimately, you lose freedom as well.

Amoral people—at self-checkout and beyond—are costing us more and more of our freedoms. (To learn more about the unbreakable link between law-keeping and freedom, read Gerald Flurry’s booklet No Freedom Without Law.)

Would you rather live in a world of self-justifying law-breakers—or of “moronic” law-keepers? Would you rather live in a world where everyone ignores the Eighth Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” or where everyone keeps it?

This proves that the laws of God are as real as the laws of physics, and that they have real-world consequences. The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Likeauthor Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “Can you realize that every unhappiness, every evil that has come to humanity, has been the result of transgressing God’s law? If no one ever had any other god before the true God; if all children were reared to honor, respect and obey their parents, and all parents reared their children in God’s ways; if no one ever allowed the spirit of murder to enter his heart, if there were no wars, no killing of humans by humans; if all marriages were kept happy and there were no transgressions of chastity before or after marriage; if all had so much concern for the good and welfare of others that no one would steal—and we could throw away all locks, keys and safes; if everyone told the truth—everyone’s word were good—everyone were honest; if no one ever coveted what was not rightfully his, but had so much outgoing concern for the welfare of others that he really believed it is more blessed to give than to receive—what a happy world we would have!”

That’s the world I want to live in. So I’m going to be the “moron” in line who keeps paying for every item in my cart—just like I wish everyone would.