Coles shopper 'triggered' by latest security measure

A shopper's rant about being locked behind security gates after buying milk has ignited a furious response to the supermarket's ongoing crackdown.

As the nation's major supermarkets move towards drastic new measures to combat what they say are skyrocketing levels of shoplifting, one shopper has shared their "disbelief" at "being trapped" behind "cell-like" anti-theft gates.

Earlier this year Coles followed competitor Woolworths in rolling out the new gates, which are designed to close when detecting items that haven't been paid for — essentially trapping suspected thieves from exiting stores. The move comes in response to soaring levels of theft, that both retailers reported had spiked significantly in the wake of the pandemic.

Some experts have blamed the cost-of-living crisis for the increase, with some fed-up shoppers even admitting to walking away without paying for groceries, as both supermarkets face continued allegations of price gouging.

A Coles customer has complained of feeling
A Coles customer has complained of feeling "trapped" behind their new anti-theft gates. Source: Coles.

Coles shopper 'triggered' by anti-theft measures

One frustrated shopper said they were "kind of triggered" after being imprisoned behind the gates.

"I just went to my local Coles and bought two bottles of overpriced milk and took them through the self-serve checkouts. I finished up scanning and paying for my two items and as I go to leave this little gate flashes red, like an alarm almost, then the gate slid shut preventing me and some 60-year-old-tradie-looking bloke from leaving," the customer said on Reddit.

"He immediately looks at me like I'm stealing, I'm in disbelief this gate is a thing that's apparently legal and wondering how I'm supposed to leave. After 30 seconds of waiting and no receipt checking, the warden [Coles employee] opened our cell we were allowed to go free.

"I honestly was kinda triggered by it and struggled to have self-control, to not just kick the barrier or step over it. With how Woolies and Coles have been treating people with price gouging this just feels like another big slap in the face."

Gates branded 'slap in the face'

The shopper's experience is not a unique one, with dozens of other similar encounters taking place in recent weeks.

A shopper at Green Hills Shopping Centre in the NSW Hunter Valley was "horrified" to find the security gates at her local store and described her experience online.

These gates are stationed at Woolworths' Fairfield store in Sydney and will also be trialled at five other locations in the coming months. Source: Woolworths
These gates are stationed at Woolworths' Fairfield store in Sydney and will also be trialled at five other locations in the coming months. Source: Woolworths

"I couldn't get out of the self-serve checkout once I had finished my shopping until they [staff] looked at my receipt and pressed a button," she said earlier in the year.

"It's not enough that they are price gouging us and ripping us off, they now lock you in."

Coles security gates now in over 100 stores

The security gates are the latest in-store change after Coles also recently announced staff would begin to wear body cams in select stores as another measure to reduce the behaviour.

"We know that retail crime is on the increase across all retailers, and we have a range of security measures in place to reduce theft from our stores," a Coles spokesperson recently told Yahoo.

Yahoo understands there are more than 100 stores nationwide that now have the security gates installed, with Coles saying the gates have corresponded with a reduction in theft at those locations. The company says it understands it has taken time for both staff and customers to adjust to the new measure and encouraged feedback from customers about how it has impacted their check-out experience.

"While most of our customers do the right thing, unfortunately a small number don't," a Coles spokesperson lamented.

Other new security features implemented by Coles include overhead cameras which will follow shoppers' movements around the store, and a lock mechanism on shopping trolleys which prevents customers from taking them away from the supermarket.

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