Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Petty crime escalates amid cost of living crisis

More Australians are resorting to theft as they struggle with the rising cost of living, according to new research by comparison site Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,096 respondents revealed one in seven – equivalent to 3 million Australians – have admitted to stealing or fraud in the past 12 months as they reach their financial breaking point.

Self serve checkouts proved the most popular place to steal, with 7% admitting to stealing at the supermarket self-checkout (up from 5% in October 2023) and the same proportion having deliberately lied about what they have scanned (nearly double the number of people who had cheated the machines last year).

Graham Cooke, Head of Consumer Research at Finder, said the figures are alarming.

“Many households are struggling and are having to make difficult, and in some cases, criminal choices to cope,” he said. “Backed-up by Finder’s cost of living pressure gauge, this illustrates the serious impacts of the cost of living crisis and the financial strain people are under.”

The survey found Gen Z (31%) are more likely than any other generation to have acted unlawfully due to cost of living pressures, compared to gen X (7%) and baby boomers (3%).

A staggering 17% of gen Z say they have left the supermarket without paying for an item, compared to only 2% of gen X.

Mr Cooke urged Australians to look for ways to save on their shop.

“Consider buying generic brands instead of name brands, as they’re often just as good for a fraction of the price. Budget-focused retailers like Aldi tend to do well in current conditions,” he said.

“Look for weekly flyers and coupons – supermarket rewards programs can also save you a few dollars off your shop. Also, shopping close to closing time increases your chance of coming across big markdowns.”

“Every bit of savings adds up, and even small changes can make a huge difference to your grocery bill,” Mr Cooke said.

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