A Christchurch supermarket is in hot water after it was reported that the supermarket's security guards were using airport-style handheld scanners to check shoppers for theft. The illegal practice was brought to light after Countdown received a flurry of complaints from concerned customers.

Security guards at Christchurch’s Ferrymead store were stopping customers at self-service checkouts to scan them before they left the store in an attempt to catch shoplifters. "I was getting prepared to say no they cannot scan me, and under what Act can they do so," reported one shopper.

Countdown was quick to jump on board after the practice was brought to light and apologise to customers. "We have a number of ways to deter theft at our stores. However, it is not our policy to scan customers at checkouts, and we don't have equipment in our stores to do this. We have now addressed this with the store.”

“We apologise to customers for any frustration caused to them. It's not the experience we expect in our stores," said a spokesperson for Countdown in a statement.

Countdown has security systems already in place to deter theft from their supermarkets such as CCTV, while Foodstuffs has previously confirmed the use of facial recognition in some of its stores.