​​​​​​​​   James Smart's Philadelphia




​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Of All Things

January 8, 2020


by James Smart


What People Steal From Hotel Rooms
          A weekly news magazine ran a tiny item that reported on a survey of 1,157 four star and five-star hotels here and in Europe. It found that many four-stars reported that guests had stolen mattresses.
          I got curious about how one sneaks a mattress out of a hotel, and tracked down the survey. It was taken last year, which seems a bit odd in a magazine that purports to give us weekly news.
          But no matter when the thefts happen, the survey revealed that hotel guests had also managed to make off with pianos, television sets and large stuffed animals!
          It was no surprise that the survey showed that 77 percent of items heisted by guests were towels. Other favorite stolen objects were clothes hangers, pens, cutlery, cosmetics, batteries, blankets, pillows, dishes, and hairdryers.
          But 20 percent of the most stolen objects is listed as “art works.” I presume this means that framed art disappeared from room walls.
          Computers and coffee makers were other favorites of light-fingered hotel customers.
But an Italian hotel reported the loss of a grand piano when three men in overalls came in and carried it off.  Nobody questioned them. But it never came back.
          A Berlin hotel reported that some popular thefts must have required larceny aforethought. They were bathroom fixtures. Tools would be required to remove such stolen items as shower heads, a toilet seat, a drain pipe, and even an entire sink.
          A hotel in England reported that, when a new guest couldn’t find his room, it was discovered that somebody had removed the numbers from a hotel room door. Presumably the previous occupant wanted a souvenir.
          WellnessHeaven, the European hotel company that conducted the survey, claims to have found that patterns of petty theft varied by nationality.
 Britons and Germans, the surveyors report, favor practical booty such as towels and bathrobes, as well as cosmetics and toiletries (Call me cynical, but it strikes me that those are things easily packed in the luggage and not detected.)
Americans were found to prefer swiping pillows and batteries.
          Austrians tended to take coffee makers and dishes. Italians liked wine glasses, probably as souvenirs. The French favored television sets and remote controls.
          The Dutch were more practical. They preferred to take away light bulbs and toilet paper.
          The makers of the survey also claim that it shows that well-to-do hotel guests are more inclined to swipe things than those of more modest means. It covered 634 four-star hotels and 523 five-star hotels.
           Four-star hotels are, I guess obviously, bigger and fancier than the one-two-three rankings. The rooms have better accommodations, with a large bed, a minibar, a safe, a workstation, bathrobes and a modern television. They usually offer valet parking, a spa, a gym, a pool and such amenities.
           Five-star hotels usually have luxurious spas and gigantic lobbies, and provide welcome gifts and butler service. A typical room has an oversized bathroom lined with marble counters and a large vanity laden with high-end toiletries. Most have golf courses, tennis courts, health clubs, and child-care services.
          If the survey means anything, it found the probability of five-star hotel guests to steal high-quality television sets is greater than the four-star people, and are more likely to make off with art work, computers and mattresses.
         Four star hotel guests tended to take home more practical stuff, such as towels, hangers and batteries.
         I leave any conclusions to the sociologists in the audience.