The Most Frequently Stolen Items From Hotel Rooms Might Surprise You

For whatever reason, staying in hotels seems to bring out the kleptomaniac in even the most honest people. It starts with taking home the miniature toiletries (which are of course, fair game) and before you know it, you’re trying to figure out how to stuff the fluffy white bathrobe into your suitcase without anyone noticing it’s gone.

Now we’re all familiar with the rampant theft of towels and linen from hotel rooms – in fact, the problem is so widespread that some hotels have resorted to inserting tracking devices in their linens to stop the thievery. However, it seems some hotel guests will steal just about anything that’s not nailed down (and some things that are). A poll of Britons uncovered a surprising array of goods pilfered regularly from hotel rooms.Among the more bizarre items stolen were curtains, with 27 percent of respondents admitting to taking home the drapes. Artwork was also high on the list, with one in three people claiming to have pinched the paintings right off the wall. Thirty-six percent also said they’d made off with picture frames from their hotel room – one can only presume these are the same folks that took the artwork. Other items of note included kettles, which were swiped by 19 percent of respondents (this was a survey of tea-loving Brits so perhaps it shouldn’t surprise). Hotels have also been busy replacing batteries and light bulbs, with more than half of respondents confessing to emptying out remote controls and lamps.

But perhaps the biggest sin to have been committed by British hotel guests? Stealing the bible. In an ironic twist, seven percent of people owned up to pocketing the very book that condemns theft.

[Photo credit: Flickr user UggBoy UggGirl]

Canadian hotel offers amnesty to thieves

In honor of its upcoming 100-year anniversary, the Château Laurier Hotel in Ottawa is offering an amnesty for anyone who has pilfered something from the hotel over the last century. The historic, castle-like hotel in the Canadian capital put out the call for the items on February 23, 100 days before the 100-year anniversary, and has already received more than 60 items from people all over North America.

“The amnesty part means there are no questions asked,” said Deneen Perrin, the hotel’s director of public relations, in a telephone interview with Gadling on Wednesday. “It doesn’t matter whether your grandmother took a silver spoon and put it in her purse or if someone’s parents maybe worked in the hotel and took something, we’ll take it back.”

Perrin said that the hotel has had a steady stream of returns, both in person and through the mail. Many of the mail returns had no return address and some who return items in person place them on the front desk and slink out. One gentleman pulled up in front of the hotel and handed a bellhop a circa-1912 doorknob from the hotel before speeding off. Others have sent in old stationery, a print likeness of the hotel, swizzle sticks, teacups, china, old brass keys, and a 20’s era utility knife with the hotel logo on it.

%Gallery-150435%”We haven’t received any old TV’s or clock radios, yet,” said Perrin, who noted that hotel bathrobes are now the most commonly pilfered item in guestrooms. She said that the hotel automatically charges a guest’s credit card if they steal towels or a bathrobe but demurred when asked if guests who returned recently stolen bathrobes could get refunds.

“I’m not sure about that one,” she said. “We’d consider it.”

The hotel opened on June 1, 1912, with rooms going for $2 a night. The opening of the hotel was actually delayed by several weeks because the man who was to manage the place died on the Titanic. Perrin said that the hotel plans to open an exhibit featuring all of the returned items from the last century on June 1 this year.

According to Perrin, everyone who makes a return seems to have an alibi. Some better than others.

“Everyone who calls says, ‘now I have something but I swear I didn’t steal it,'” she said.

Tracking devices in hotel linens thwart thievery

In case you wondered, Big Brother is watching. In your hotel room. A Miami-based company, Linen Tracker, has patented a radio-frequency identification chip that keeps real-time inventory of frequently misplaced or stolen items such as hotel linens. Like, you know, that plushy robe you planned to take as a souvenir, or that Egyptian cotton pillowcase that sent you into such blissful slumber. The chips are also designed to help hotel managers and maids stock rooms and order supplies.

reports that three hotels, in New York, Miami and Honolulu, are using Linen Trackers, and the company’s executive vice president, William Serbin, sees a bright future for the devices. “Any given month, [hotels] can lose five to 20 percent of towels, sheets and robes. That gets expensive with the rising cost of cotton.”

Serbin was inspired by the sensors used on toll roads that he drove on in Florida. “We tweaked the technology, went through trial and error with different types of chips and put them in the correct place,” he explains. “Now, chip life exceeds 300 wash cycles.”

So far, the chips appear to be working: a handful of linen thieves have been apprehended, and asked to return the pilfered items to the hotel. Shame, it seems, is also an effective deterrent.

[Photo credit: Flicrk user C Ray Dancer]

Top items stolen from hotels – from towels to plasma TV’s

During the past 18 months, I’ve been collecting information from every hotel I’ve visited – I’ve made it part of my trip to ask the hotel front desk staff what their experiences have been with theft from their rooms.

With the exception of 2 properties (one almost called the cops on me), 47 of them were more than willing to share their experiences, one even went so far as to set up a meeting with their loss prevention manager to discuss the topic – and as it turns out, theft is a major issue for all hotels.

Of course, a collection of results from 47 hotels is not exactly a scientific survey, but it does give a bit of an idea of the scope of what people help themselves to during their stay.
#1 – Towels

This one wasn’t all that surprising – towels are by far the number 1 item people help themselves to. In fact, one 415 room hotel I chatted with has an annual budget exceeding $140,000 just to replace stolen towels. Pool towels disappear more than in-room towels, and a member of housekeeping told me that guests take those because there is no way for anyone to know how many you use (whereas in-room towels are often counted).

#2 – Bedding

I’m not a fan of hotel beds – but apparently there are plenty of people that love the feel of hotel sheets, pillows, blankets and comforters, because bedding is the second most stolen item.

#3 – Silverware / kitchen items / room service items

Cups, plates, glassware, trays, pots, pans and a microwave. Sticky fingers take advantage of the added amenities found in the hospitality industry to stock their own kitchen. The damage is the largest at extended stay properties, where guests are provided with more than just a coffee maker and ice bucket. And yes – the ice bucket is also a very popular item. Gross.

Room service items are also high on the list. One property started tracking what they delivered to rooms, and what they got back, and realized 10% of the silverware, plates and trays delivered never got returned. Now, I agree that room service is an overpriced scam, and it may feel like the hotel is stealing from you, but to recoup your losses by stealing from the hotel is just plain mean.

#4 – Bathroom products

No – I’m not referring to the complimentary shower gel, but more about the pricier items like hair dryers, make-up mirrors and towel bars. One property with just over 100 rooms goes through 3 hair dryers a week. Even the iron and ironing board are not immune from being taken.

#5 – Electronics

Hotel thieves have no shame – as soon as a hotel adds something nice, thieves will start stealing it. In-room phones (even though they are useless outside the hotel), DVD players, remote controls, Internet connectivity cables and yes – TV’s.

There is apparently a reason the TV is bolted down, because the new LCD and plasma TV’s installed in hotel rooms disappear at a fairly alarming rate. Obviously not daily, but one loss prevention manager told me he has at least one case a month of a vanishing TV. My biggest question is how the hell people are able to get the TV out of the hotel without anyone noticing. Thankfully, hotel technology is improving, and systems are being added to detect theft.

#6 – Furniture and lightbulbs

Trash cans, office chairs and paintings/mirrors are amongst the items stolen from hotel rooms. One property I spoke to was trying to get a $900 Aeron office chair returned, after a guest “accidentally” removed it. The best part of that theft? Hotel video cameras caught the guest rolling it out a side door when they used it as a luggage cart. The guest claims they forgot to return it to their room.

Lightbulbs are another item you’d never expect people to steal – but these items disappear so often, that some hotels have had to add them to the housekeeping cart so they can be replaced as soon as they disappear. I guess people feel it is perfectly acceptable to steal $4 light bulbs instead of just buying them.

#7 – Signs

This one took me by surprise – because I never realized people would actually be bothered to steal signs. According to one front desk manager, hotel signs are stolen mostly by drunk guests, who figure the sign will look good on their front door at home.

#8 – insane items…

A window mounted air conditioning unit (weighing over 300 lb.), a desk, a color copier (from a meeting room) and the sliding doors off a wardrobe – these are just some of the crazier items that have been taken from hotel rooms. Some of these items could be described as “the cost of doing business”, others are just plain crazy.

Sadly, the price of theft impacts us all, because the more people steal, the higher hotel prices will go.


Hotel room security defeated by a piece of wire – can be secured with a towel

This video clip is pretty alarming – it shows how easy it is for a stranger to enter your hotel room, using nothing more than a piece of wire. As you can see in the clip, the wire goes under the door, and is used to open the door from the inside. In all my years of staying in hotels, I never realized how simple it could be.

Thankfully, the clip also shows how easy it is to defeat this method – stuff a towel behind the door handle. Of course, now this new entry method has been revealed to the world, I’m going to have to start using the towel protection method every time I’m in a hotel room. At least when you are in your room, you can protect against this kind of entry with the deadbolt and/or door chain, the real danger is when you are not in your room, and nobody is protecting your valuables.

(Via Gizmodo)

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