What happens to forgotten cash at self-checkout stations?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – They greet you, scan your groceries, take your money and give you cash back. They’ll even give you a friendly reminder to pick up that cash before you leave. But self-checkout machines can’t make up for human error.

With more and more self-checkout counters popping up in popular Albuquerque stores like Smith’s, more customers are forgetting to take their cash back on the way out. That leaves the person who finds the forgotten cash facing a decision.

What Would You Do?

Cash at self-checkout machine in grocery store

“I would turn the cash in,” Elizabeth Davis said. “I mean, plain and simple.”

“Oh, boy. That would be kind of a nice surprise,” Maria Erb said. “I really don’t know what I would do.”

“Depends if it’s change or a lot of money, I’ll give it to manager,” Hossein Kermani said.

Whatever you do, there’s probably a camera capturing it all.

For example, surveillance video at Smith’s on Coal and Yale shows a patron go to the self-checkout station. He withdraws $60 but, by the time the machine spits out the cash under the card reader at the end of the transaction, he was already busy loading up the shopping cart and on his way out the door.

Two minutes later, the video shows someone else at that checkout counter who chooses to pocket the money, apparently believing in the “finders keepers” philosophy.

“Taking money by force or coercion, that’s a crime. But finding money, that comes down to doing the right thing and giving it back to the manager,” Albuquerque Police Officer Simon Drobik said.

Surveillance video at a Sam’s Club captured another guy who thought no one was watching. Someone accidentally left behind their cell phone. A man approaches, looks around and then walks out with it.

“You could be the next person that loses something and you want that next person to find your property and turn it in, just as much as that person would want you to turn in the property that you may have found,” Officer Drobik said.

At Smith’s, that does happen too where customers will look out for each other. Plus, they say a clerk should be watching over the self-checkout counters.

“We try to teach our self-checkout clerks to be attentive, so they can catch that customer if it was left before they left the campus,” said Aubriana Martindale, Smith’s Food & Drug division corporate affairs manager.

Otherwise, they say, the owner has a month to come back to claim the cash before the store donates it to a nonprofit. Smith’s says there is no way to really keep track of how often this is happening because people don’t always report it.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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