The international survey was carried out in the largest cities in 32 countries. Reader’s Digest researchers left 30 mid-priced mobile phones in busy public places, and observed the phones from a distance. They then called the phones and watched to see if anyone answered. If somebody answered the phone, they asked them to return it.
The most honest country in the world in the admittedly unscientific survey was Ljubljana in Slovenia, where 29 out of 30 phones came back to their owners. Stockholm was fourth – 26 out of 30 phones were returned.
The situation was very different in some other cities. The survey suggests that you should keep tight hold of your property in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, where only 13 of 30 mobiles were returned. This is not to suggest that Europe was universally safe – in Amsterdam and Bucharest, only 14 phones found their way back to their owners.
In honest Stockholm, one person to pass Reader’s Digest’s test was Lotta Mossige-Norheim, a railway ticket inspector. She found a phone on a shopping street and handed it back.
“I’m always calling people who’ve left a handset on my train,” she explained.
Conrad Eichel, editorial director of Reader’s Digest, said he was “surprised and intrigued” by the results.
“In every single city where the test was conducted, at minimum almost half the phones were returned. And despite the temptation that people must have felt to keep the phones, and the fact that the test imposed on everyone’s time, the average return rate was a remarkable 68 percent.”