Legislature Considers Bill to Restrict Self-Service Checkouts

Crime has become a big topic in the California State Legislature, reflecting the growing frustration many residents have expressed over crime rates.

Several Democratic lawmakers are championing legislation intended to crack down on crime, including bills to toughen penalties for retail theft and to prosecute more people who break into cars. There will probably be a measure on the ballot in November asking voters whether to impose harsher penalties for shoplifters and fentanyl dealers.

Another group of Democrats is taking a different approach. Saying that the state should not rely on mass incarceration as a solution, progressive lawmakers introduced a 29-bill package last month that focuses on crime prevention, rehabilitation and services for offenders.

One of those bills, Senate Bill 1446, has attracted a lot of attention recently for the way it might change an everyday activity — grocery shopping.

The bill would require grocery stores and drugstores that have self-checkout stations to assign employees to watch over them with no other tasks — and with no more than two machines each to monitor. Customers would be allowed to use the stations only if they were buying 10 items or fewer.

The idea is to reduce theft, keep workers from being overwhelmed and reduce the danger of violence by shoplifters, according to State Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, Democrat of Los Angeles, who introduced the measure.

“We have so many bills in this Legislature that are trying to increase penalties,” Smallwood-Cuevas told me. “We know that what makes our community safe is not more jail time and penalties. What makes our community safe is real enforcement, having real workers that are on the floor.”

The bill is backed by labor groups, but opposed by business groups, who say the rules would stifle growth without deterring crime. “Retail theft committed in stores has been brazenly committed regardless of whether there’s employees staffing checkout lanes or the presence of self-checkout lanes,” the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Retailers Association told a state legislative committee in a letter, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Still, Smallwood-Cuevas said that her bill would create a better environment for workers and customers alike. “I don’t want to be just hard on crime,” she said. “I also want to be smart on it, and I think this is a way to do it.”



  1. I like the idea of someone standing there to divert customers with more than 10 items. It totally irks me to watch a guy stack five cans of chunk light and five cans of solid white and then when he throws a pack of gum on top, I just wish a siren would go off!

    Seriously, thoughtless guys like that need to go to the back of the line where the real cashier is about to take a break. Then we he gets to the front of the line, they say, Sorry, get in another line ha ha! I mean, there oughta be a law, and the time has come.

  2. Almost every store has a policy of not allowing employees to prevent theft due to liability.
    So i fail to see how this idea will help. Seems like someone hasn’t taken the time to think it through.

  3. baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahaha

    The Karen Capital of the Universe

    ‘… there outta be a law…’

    you fools and your busy-body bs

  4. The big picture isn’t if this is influenced by organized labor, for example, or that it’s about theft but stores usually do nothing now to stop it (closer to the answer), but that it’s part of the state’s decline in general, in no small part from the prevailing politics that govern policy and the even-worse turns taken more recently. It even extends to continued lowering of behavior in general, not limited to crime. Behavior in stores is noted; what is driving like lately, for example? I’d like to see what amounts to a pathology study of how worse it could get.

  5. Fine, if the stores are getting robbed, they should change thier policies motivated by profit, not through legal requirements. It’s not the self-checkout lines that are driving the state’s decline, its the progressive ideology that is. I don’t use them, because I prefer a person checking out my groceries, but its not the business of the state to tell store they can’t use automated checkouts if the stores won’t report crimes by the citizens.

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