Shoppers turned malfunctioning register into ATM, police say

- Police in Winter Haven are looking for a group of Walmart shoppers who apparently helped themselves to over $1,000 in extra cash when they discovered a self-checkout register error.

It was just after midnight back on Saturday morning when the eight shoppers walked into the Winter Haven store.  Surveillance footage provided by police shows a man scanning two items at the self-checkout cash register, paying cash, and walking off.

He walks back, though, as another member of the group checks out.  That’s when, police say, they compare notes and realize that the register is dispensing $20 bills instead of $5 bills.

“Finding this obvious windfall, honest people would immediately alert the sales associate to the error -- but not this group,” offered Winter Haven Police Department spokesman Jamie Brown.  “They all start lining up to pay for one small item each in order to receive change that should include $5 -- knowing they would instead receive a $20 bill.”

Footage from the cameras shows the group taking turns grabbing items like candy and gum, then grabbing extra change from the erstwhile ATM for more than 20 minutes.

In total, the group retrieved $1,100 in error.  Now, police are asking for help identifying the shoppers.

According to police, footage from the parking lot shows that the group came in two separate vehicles -- a newer model black four-door car and a silver or gray four-door car.  Investigators ask anyone with information to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477).

The store, meanwhile, eventually discovered the issue and determined that $20 bills had been erroneously loaded in the slot where the $5 bills should go.

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