A wave of "micro-crime" is sweeping Great Britain, a polling company has claimed. Three of four Brits are committing petty crimes such as abusing self-checkout tills and lying about their age to get better deals, according to data pulled together by YouGov.

The crime most often confessed to by the British public is paying someone cash-in-hand, knowing that the person will not pay tax on it.

Matthew Smith, a data journalist at YouGov, said: "Looking around you, you probably wouldn't expect that three in every four people you see are concealing a criminal past.

"Yet that's exactly what is happening as new research from YouGov reveals that as many as 74% of British people are 'micro-criminals' – having perpetrated at least one very minor or 'micro' crime."

The second-most commonly committed crime was the illegal streaming or downloading of TV shows, movies or music. Just under 30% of poll participants admitted this crime and unsurprisingly, younger people are far more likely to have done this than their elders.

Of people aged 18-24, 57% of them have admitted to illegally streaming and 48% to illegal downloading.

Another costly "micro-crime" is the stealing of plastic bags, without paying the 5p charge.

Smith said: "Of concern to the supermarkets should be the loss of income on plastic bags, with 17% of people saying that they have taken a plastic bag without paying for it.

"Assuming that all plastic bags stolen cost 5p each, that frequent thieves steal one bag a week, occasional thieves steal one roughly every three weeks, and that those who steal bags once or twice steal one or two a year, we calculate an annual loss of £4.2m in stolen plastic bags."

One in 10 people also admitted to putting a product through the self-service checkouts at a price that is less than it actually costs.

YouGov also claimed that men and middle-class people were more likely to commit these petty crimes. They say 77% of men commit "micro-crimes" whereas 71% of women admitted committing them.

Roughly 80% of middle-class people admitted committing "micro-crimes" while the figure was closer to 70% for working-class people.

Other common "micro-crimes" included avoiding paying fares on public transport and refilling drinks without paying extra.

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