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International hockey player caught in UK grocery store onion scam

A former international hockey player has been caught abusing UK self-scan grocery stores, passing off avocados for onions.
Sainsburys checkoutEnlarge
The checkout line at a UK Sainsbury's grocery store. (Wikimedia commons)

A former international hockey player was busted in a self-scan grocery store scam, after a Sainsbury's security guard caught him attempting to pass off $35 in groceries as a passel of loose onions. 

Twenty-five year old Nicholas Long, a former international hockey player, admitted to pulling off the loose-onion scam twenty times over a three month period earlier in 2013,  apparently worried about losing his job, a family debt, and his girlfriend's pregnancy. 

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“It was a stupid thing he has done," said solicitor Angus Mathieson of his client's case, according to the Independent. "He was not getting a stupid amount, not substituting champagne or anything like that, but just getting an avocado and claiming it was an onion.”

The former hockey played admitted to a count of fraud by false representation, wrote KentOnline, and he was given 180 hours of community service, as well as a 

Long, who admitted a single rolled-up count of fraud by false representation, was given 180 hours' community service and ordered to pay a $450 fine. 

Long was apparently over $16,000 in debt over his father's failing business, says Metro UK, and noted that he had been caught stealing in both 2011 and 2012 — including an incident where he stole a phone from another guest's handbag at a private party. 

Grocery store self-scanners have gained popularity in recent years (and have deeply confused many old-fashioned shoppers), providing shoppers with speed and convenience.

However, many in the grocery industry have noticed that it's very easy to steal from self-checkout lines: the Point of Sale news has published a litany of self-checkout theft techniques, including sleight of hand, overloading the weight scale, and yes, substitution. 

Video surveillance techniques and more keen-eyed security guards, like the worker that caught Nicholas Long, have been deployed to fight back.


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