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]

Hotel Madness: Vote for your biggest hotel pet peeves

hotel madness tournament gadling

We launched our Hotel Madness tournament on Monday and the entire first round is now live. If you don’t know what Hotel Madness is or you just need a refresher, check out our introductory post. First round voting is open until 11:59pm EDT this Sunday, March 20. Be sure to vote in each and every match-up listed below. Simply choose the hotel pet peeves that bother you the most. The winners will advance to the second round, which you’ll be able to vote on next week.

Make your voices heard. Vote, leave comments and let us know what you hate most about hotels.


First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

Hotel Madness: Bad water pressure vs. Small towels

hotel madness bad water pressure small towels
This intriguing Hotel Madness contest is a battle of bathroom bothers. The #7 seed Bad water pressure tries to drown #10 seed Small towels. Whether you’ve spent your day at the beach or need to clean up before a full day of business meetings, bad water pressure can make your shower useless and leave you a smelly mess. On the flip side, getting out of the shower only to discover that your towels are smaller than a handkerchief is a problem that leaves you wet and shivering.

Read the full bios for each of this peeves below. Then be sure to vote for the one that makes you the maddest! The winner advances to the second round.

(7) Bad Water Pressure
Waking up in hotel rooms can be confusing. You’re not 100% sure of where you are and the comfort of your morning routine has been disrupted. Surely a shower will help you shake the cobwebs out of your head. Not so fast. Your hotel comes equipped with a moderate trickle of water with which to wash off the memories of last night’s corporate team building karaoke or the smell of livestock that has permeated every pour of your body since you hitched a ride in that horse trailer. Hope you don’t get any soap in your eyes.

(10) Small Towels
You’ve stepped out of your quasi-refreshing shower and need to towel off quickly because the default setting on all hotel thermostats is “Arctic.” Before your skin freezes solid, you wrap a towel around your…thigh. You’d like to get it around your entire torso, but, quite frankly, you have napkins larger than this back home. You double-check to make sure that you didn’t grab one of the hand towels or washcloths. Nope, this is the bath towel. You sneak a peak of yourself in the mirror. Sure, you ate a lot at the dinner last night but you’re no fatter than you were when you left home. It’s just a small towel that kind of feels like sandpaper.

So, which bathroom bother gets your blood boiling? Vote now!

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First round voting ends at 11:59EDT on Sunday, March 20.

More Hotel Madness action:
#1 No free Wi-Fi vs. #16 Annoying hotel TV channel
#2 Bad front desk service vs. #15 Everything about TV remotes
#3 Expensive parking vs. #14 Tightly tucked-in sheets
#4 Resort fees vs. #13 Early housekeeping visits
#5 No airport shuttle vs. #12 One-ply toilet paper
#6 No free breakfast vs. #11 Expensive minibars
#8 Room not ready on time vs. #9 Early checkout times

Follow along with the Hotel Madness tournament here.

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.

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United to receive heavy fine for towel stuffed in engine

US Airways and United Airlines both stand to receive multi-million dollar fines from the FAA for maintenance violations.

US Airways’ violations include failing to inspect cargo doors and landing gear on a few plans and for failing to perform routine checks on dozen of others. US Airways responded quickly to the news, saying that the violations stem from the integration of their maintenance systems back from October 2008 to January of 2009, and that they are working on addressing the issues. The airline could be fined up to $5.4 million. This is the isn’t the first time US Airways has been fined this year either. In January, they were fined for violating rules involving oversold flights.

United’s violation is perhaps more troubling. The airline faces a $3.8 million fine for a single incident. In April 2008, a Boeing 737 returned to Denver after its engine shut down with low oil pressure. When the engine was inspected, two shop towels were inside. The towels “had been used to cover openings in the oil sump area” instead of the regulation caps. The towels were believed to have been there since December 2007, when maintenance was performed on the engine. This sounds terrifying, but according to the Cranky Flier website, it isn’t quite as scary as it sounds. The caps are only used during maintenance and then removed.

But still, the FAA is taking the incident seriously. “As a result of United’s failure to follow its maintenance procedures. . .it flew the aircraft on more than 200 revenue flights when it was not in an airworthy condition,” the FAA said in a statement.

[via ABC News Denver]