Ex-Walmart Worker Spills Store 'Secrets' Such as Freezing Shoppers' Screens

A self-described former Walmart employee has shared the little-known tactic they allegedly used to prevent shoplifters in their tracks at self-checkouts.

Thanks to a viral video from August 2021, the existence of devices used by Walmart staff was known. The previous video had revealed that workers at self-checkouts carry portable devices that show each checkout's scanned items, meaning workers can see what has and hasn't been paid for.

Now, however, another Walmart worker has explained the subtle technique used to stop shoplifters in a non-confrontational way, when they realize some items are not going to be scanned.

"On these Walmart TC devices we have the option to pause your self-checkout at any point and pretend there's something wrong with the machine if we suspect there's anything you're stealing," explained Athenia Camacho in a video with over 3 million views.

"So at any point on this device, if we click the number, it will show us your entire order and everything that you've so far scanned in, and if we suspect that you're stealing, there's going to be an option at the bottom that says 'pause transaction,'" she continued.

According to Camacho, the self-checkout screen will either turn black with white code on it, or will simply freeze exactly how it was, meaning the customer can no longer scan any items.

"At that point you have no choice but to call for help, and once we come over we pretend like something is wrong with the machine," she explained, adding that workers will press a button that allows the machine to lift open, while pretending that there's something faulty with it.

"At that point what they do is, if you already have things inside the bag and you're stealing, 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."

It's unclear whether the technique is standard protocol or simply used by Camacho's store.

"After about two weeks of being there I had a loss prevention employee for Walmart tell me that if I look at the TC device at the bottom there is a pause transaction button and she explained that we use it in the event there is a customer stealing," Camacho told Newsweek.

"[She] went on to explain that we should pretend that the machine does not work and lift up the top and then move them to a main register or another self checkout where we would help them scan every item and take everything fully out of bags. I never personally used the technique but I did see other employees use it quite frequently and they would wait for the customer to leave to put the register back to normal."

Newsweek has contacted Walmart for comment.

Preventing Shoplifting

As reported by CBC, the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention in the U.S. surveyed thousands of small-time shoplifters and found that many saw the self-checkout machines as easy pickings due to the lack of staff present.

Bob Moraca, former vice president of loss prevention at the National Retail Federation in the U.S, explained the common thinking: "Now I've got to bag my own stuff and I've got to check out myself...and it's a little bit of a hassle, so, guess what, I get to take one or two things for free."

"You say: 'Oh, goodness me, did I make a mistake? I'm terribly sorry,'" he explained.

In Camacho's words: "Do not steal from Walmart self-checkouts…you will get caught."

Newsweek has contacted Athenia Camacho for comment.

Update 01/24/22 at 03:18 a.m. ET; This article was updated to add further comments from Camacho.