Revealed: the surprising extent of petty theft in Switzerland

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Revealed: the surprising extent of petty theft in Switzerland
One in eight adults in Switzerland say they have stolen from a supermarket. File photo: Depositphotos"

While people in Switzerland have a reputation for being a law-abiding bunch, a new survey reveals a surprisingly high rate of petty theft in the country.


Just under half (49 percent) of adults in Switzerland have deliberately not paid for something at least once in their lives, according to the survey by financial comparison website 

The finding is based on the results of a representative and anonymous online survey completed by 1,500 adults in German- and French-speaking Switzerland. 

The poll reveals that supermarkets are one of the main targets for petty theft. Around one in eight people (12 percent) said they had stolen from the supermarket giant Migros while 11 percent said they had done so from Migros' main competitor Coop. 

Read also: How 'stealing' a packet of grated cheese ended up costing one pensioner thousands of francs

Eight percent of survey respondents also said they had intentionally failed to pay for items while using self-service checkouts. But director told Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger this figure was likely to be closer to 15 percent as not all survey respondents had actually used these increasingly popular checkouts. 

The survey also reveals that 13 percent of people have deliberately not paid hotel bills, while that figure is the same for restaurants. 

And it’s not just people on lower incomes who are responsible for these figures.

According to the survey, the percentage of people doing a runner at restaurants was highest (21 percent) in the group with assets of 300,000 to 500,000 Swiss francs. 

It's a similar story when it comes to people who have, on at least one occasion, used public transport after deciding not to buy a ticket. While the overall figure for all wealth groups was 34 percent, it was 39 percent for millionaires.

Meanwhile, just under 5 percent of all survey respondents said they 'often' travelled without a valid ticket.

The survey also found that men are more likely to have deliberately stolen or not paid for something than women (52 percent against 46 percent).  

Younger people are also more likely to offend (or to admit they have offended in an online survey). Only 31 percent of people aged 18–25 said they had never stolen while that figure was 49 percent among 26 to 49-year-olds and 60 percent for people aged from 50 to 75. 

But the differences between the French- and German-speaking parts of the country were minor in terms of the percentage of people who had never deliberately failed to pay for something (53 percent versus 50 percent).



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