YouGov research shows half of Australians admit to committing at least one micro-crime

YouGov research shows half of Australians admit to committing at least one micro-crime
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Beware! Though you probably wouldn’t realise it, half of Aussies are hiding a criminal past. In fact, it’s quite possible you’re one of them. New YouGov research recently polled 1,000 people in Australia to discover how many of us have committed at least one very minor (or “micro”) crime.

The most common micro-crime committed by Australians is being given the wrong change and not pointing it out. Half of those polled (50%) admit to doing this at least once.

After this, the most commonly committed micro-crimes that people confess to are paying someone cash-in-hand despite knowing they won’t pay tax (48%) and illegally downloading TV shows, movies or music (40%).


Illegally downloading content is, unsurprisingly, most prolific among young people. Two-thirds (67%) of 18-24 years have done so at least once and nearly a quarter (24%) do so regularly, whereas just 2% of those over 55 do so frequently.

The contrast is even more stark when it comes to illegally streaming content, where nearly three-quarters (74%) of 18-24 year olds admit to streaming content, compared with 17% of over 55s.

Young people are also more likely to commit a number of other micro-crimes:

  • Lying about their age to get a cheaper deal; over half (53%) of 18-24 year olds have done this, well above the national average of 30%.

  • Putting a product through a self-service till for less than it should actually cost; over three times as many 18-24 years olds (36%) have done this compared with over 55s, 10% of whom admit to have done this at least once.

  • Telling someone their food order was take-away rather than eat-in because it costs less; 33% of those aged 18-34 have done this, compared to 23% of those aged 35+.

  • Eating loose fruit and/or pick’n’mix from the store without paying for it; 36% of 18-24 year olds have, compared to 21% of over 55s.

  • Avoiding paying the right fare on public transport.  49% of 18-24 year olds have done this, against the national average of 34%.

However, before branding young people as micro-criminals it’s worth noting that some micro-crimes are more common among older generations. This is particularly true when it comes to paying cash-in-hand for a service in the knowledge that the provider won’t pay tax. Just 31% of 18-34 year olds admit to doing this, compared to 58% of those over 35.

Paying cash-in-hand is also more common in rural areas (58% of rural residents admit to it) than metropolitan areas, where 44% have done this. Incidence is highest in Queensland, where 59% of residents have paid cash-in-hand at least once, and lowest in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory (41% of residents admit to doing this). This micro-crime is also more prevalent among men than women; 56% of men admit to paying cash-in-hand tax-free compared to 40% of women.

Gender plays a factor in other crimes, too. For example, there are more than twice as many men (9%)  than women (4%) admit to taking plastic bags from the supermarket without paying for them on a regular basis.