Detecting Bottom Of The Basket Shrink At The Supermarket?

One form of retail theft is to put items on the bottom of the shopping cart and then simply roll them out, without any store employees noticing.

As one crazy guy explains how he steals from the grocery store,

"I throw large products like kitty litter, Gatorade, and toilet paper on to the bottom rack of the shopping cart. Upon checking out, no one ever looks at the bottom rack. They think you'll be honest and alert the checker to what's there. Honesty's for suckers. I just pretend that whatever's beneath eye level doesn't exist and I walk out of the store saving forty or fifty bucks. I rarely get caught doing this, but when I do, I claim ignorance. It's an obvious oversight because I, much like most checkers, don't look that low. Anyway, they got some fucking nerve charging twelve bucks for a 16-pack of toilet paper. It goes in your ass. It shouldn't cost that much."

A member is asking what solutions exist for this.

The only solution I have found is a camera embedded at the bottom of the checkout stand (see image above). One supplier - LaneHawk, another Hawkeye (whitepaper).

Anyone have any recommendations here?


Btw, Target uses a tactically placed mirror to help their associates see what's inside the bottom of the basket.

Looks like so:

Seems to be a low cost and sensible solution.

For those looking for background information, we covered Stoplift in this note.

Stoplift is a subscription based analytic that primarily focuses on cashiers / checkout. Primarily they are looking for "sweethearting", but BOB is also an alert. They do have a team in India that looks at the "hits" overnight and then sends the results back to the stores the next morning

There is also StopLift not sure about their current technology, I think the previous generation leveraged outsourced labor to make the final determination. From what I've heard, the retailers are less concerned about catching an incident in real-time, and more concerned about catching cashiers that let it happen. So, an alert 24 hours after the actual event is still good enough to fire a cashier with.

Hans, thanks! Certainly one option :)

The old tradeoff between security and convenience....

I once spoke to some folks from Italy about this problem. They said that they didn't have this problem over there because they simply took the bottoms out of the baskets.

"He says checkout lady to look for the red light on the ceiling to go off after the cart got emptied."

Very clever! Tedor, thanks for sharing!

I asked the local man at the suppermarket here in Belgrade about undercart stealers and he was proud enough to show me how he took some censors from the electrik garage opening devices, the thing that stops the door from squashing on you if you try to beat it on the way down. He took infrared beam shooter and put it on the ceiling(5m) and put detecter right next to it both facing down aiming the floor where was stuck a patch of metal foil tape right under where the cart was. He says czechout lady to look for the red light on the ceiling to go off after the cart got emptied. He said now he need replace the censors on the loading docks before somebody gets squashed on again. That is the value of life here.

Scott, thanks, great feedback!

Several different methods, in addition to the mirrors, and much cheaper than Lanehawk:

The POS can be set up to remind cashiers to check "BOB" before the transaction total

Also there are very inexpensive analog kits, that use a pin hole camera and a 4" monitor installed at each register, None of the stores that used this bothered recording the video - it was simply a view system for cashiers. No feedback on the reduction of Bob instances, but the chains we worked with back in my integrator days did keep buying them

Thanks, Jon, interesting feedback! Related consumer discussion / debate over Kroger's question here.

Kroger has a series of mirrors and a window at the lower cart level so the cashier can see the lower cart area easily. They also have a program called "HAVE YOU SEEN B.O.B.?", where B.O.B. stands for bottom of basket, not a guy named Bob. Also, some of the newer stores have a camera in that window that, I assume, is tied to analytics of some sort to alert store personell when something slides by unnoticed.