The Most Expensive Things People Have Stolen From Their Hotel Rooms

Theft can cost hotels an estimated $100 million a year. In fact, NBC reports that guests get away with stealing so many items from hotels that major chains have created “no stay list” database jammed with past offenders. These are the patrons who’ve lifted one too many soda bottles and are no longer welcome to book a stay. Get in trouble in Miami, and you’ll also encounter trouble in Seattle, thanks to this centralized system.

On one hand, hotels hope you take a few dollar-store shampoo bottles as it may remind you to book another room at $289 per night down the line. Other items they wish you’d leave untouched — though few hoteliers will ever actually pry through your luggage should you get gutsy enough to pocket an item or two.

Sadly, guest routinely buck the system and steal items from their rooms. A report from The Telegraph highlighting its frequency suggests theft is a lofty and unfortunate cost of doing business in hotels. So just how much do hotel chains lose when guests steal amenities? Ahead are the most commonly thieved items, ranked by cost, and a few other priceless items people have dared to pinch.

15. Books

woman reading a book in bed

Your hotel library might not be very well stocked for a reason. |

  • $12.31 for a paperback 2017 best-seller thriller

Considering most hotel libraries are lacking in the “classics” category, we’re not sure stealing a dated and worn mystery thriller is something people would want to fess up to. Still, 15% did confess to taking a book from a hotel in The Telegraph survey. Your average book runs around $12 a pop, meaning common theft like this is no small incident.

Next: Is this item worth the risk?

14. Batteries and light bulbs

Man screwing a lightbulb into an overhead light

They aren’t expensive, but many people still steal these items. | Thinkstock

It’s clear no TV remote or bedside lamp is safe among thrifty guests. Despite being one of the least expensive items you could snipe from a hotel room, 57% of people have packed light bulbs and batteries into their suitcases upon exit, thus attributing for a sizable chunk of annual hotel theft costs.

Next: Hotels are forgoing these amenities overall thanks to a high rate of theft.

13. Food and drinks

Minibar bottles in bucket with ice cubes

Have you ever nabbed a bottle from the minibar? | serezniy/iStock/Getty Images

There are very few people who could honestly say they’ve never nabbed an extra croissant or bag of chips from the hotel breakfast bar. An impending long drive warrants snacks after all. Even raiding the minibar to forgo a $17 half bottle of wine is standard practice for some guests looking for a loophole. With more than 51% of people confessing to stealing food and drink items, these amenities are some of a hotel’s biggest loses.

Next: An unlikely item

12. Picture frames

Variety of picture frames

Does the photo inside of the frame get stolen as well? | JackF/iStock/Getty Images

  • $14.95 for an 11-by-14-inch wall frame

Shockingly, 36% of hotel guests have stolen a picture frame from their rooms. Are these thieves leaving the picture and stealing just the frame? Do they take the whole thing? Where do they hide it? We have so many questions.

Next: Overindulgence adds up

11. Toiletries

Soap dispensers, Cotton swabs, and other toiletries

We know you’ve probably stolen one of these items. |

  • $15.00 for a traveling toiletry bag

We already know hoteliers don’t mind if you take little things like toiletries. In fact, they’re expecting it. Almost everyone takes the extra shampoo and lotion bottles left over from their stay, but it takes a little extra gumption to completely raid the abandoned hotel cart in the hallway and walk away with more than you’d ever need. Even though travel bags are a minor traveling expense, people opt for thievery more often than not.

Next: Hotels are forced to replace this appliance frequently

10. Tea kettles

Green tea being poured into cups

These items usually aren’t cheap, either. | Shaiith/iStock/Getty Images

  • $23.50 for a microwave-safe kettle

Around 19% of people are willing to risk landing themselves in hot water for pilfering a suite’s tea kettle, according to the Telegraph survey. But again, we ask: Where are you hiding such an item so that it doesn’t shatter into a million pieces all over your neatly packed socks?

Next: Why would anyone steal this unusual item?

9. Cutlery

Catering cutlery service with tableware

You probably never thought about getting your cutlery from a hotel, did you? |

At just $28.99 per set — less than $1 a pop — kitchen cutlery is one of the most common items robbed from hotels. We could understand pocketing a silver or pure gold fork, but most chains stick with stainless steel just in case. Nevertheless, 45% of people admit to slipping a few of these pieces into their luggage leaving hotel chains eating the costs — because you never know when you’ll need to produce your own fork unexpectantly.

Next: Stealing these items will add up quick

8. Towel and linens

orchid, white towels, and soaps

Hotels lose a substantial number of towels and linens each year. |

  • $34.40 per Luxury Hotel & Spa Bath Towel set

The Telegraph found that roughly 68% of people admitted to stealing towels and linens from their hotel rooms. This could get costly for hotel chains, who admit to losing up to 20% of their towel and linen inventory each month.

But steal at your own risk. More U.S. chains are investing in electronic tracking tags to monitor item whereabouts. Should you get bold and take one for yourself, an alarm will sound. Similar towels run about $35 on Amazon, suggesting stealing this hotel item isn’t worth it.

Next: A risky move

7. Bibles

man holding a bible

A whopping 69% of people admitted to stealing this item. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

  • $40.46 for a faux-leather Bible

Astonishingly, 69% of people admitted to breaking the 8th commandment and stealing a bible from their hotel room. Depending on the type of bibles available in every room, this could be a costly expense for hotel chains — especially since it’s the most commonly thieved item reported by hotels overall. But we’re guessing employees will leave the reprimanding up to the powers that be instead.

Next: Yes, people actually take this item

6. Curtains

A hotel maid opening the curtains in a room

The curtains may be nice, but you still shouldn’t take them. | DSP/iStock/Getty Images

  • $41.99 for hotel blackout curtains

Solid light-blocking curtains cost roughly $42 bucks on Amazon. The Telegraph says that 27% of people, or one in every four guests, admit to slinking them out of their wall sockets and hiding them in suitcases. Then, hotel chains are forced to fund the hefty expense in every instance.

Next: An enticing choice for many

5. Robes

Hotel bathrobe

Some of these robes are shockingly expensive. |

Much like towels and linens, plush hotel robes are among the most commonly stolen items in hotels. And they can get quite costly, depending on where you book a stay. Ritz Carlton is one of the many hotel chains that have begun to sell their infamous robes online in hopes of thwarting theft. For those against criminal acts, these soft beauties can be yours for upwards of $125.

Next: Many have attempted to steal this next thing

4. Televisions

a luxury hotel room

That nice TV might be gone before the hotel knows it. | iStock/Getty Images

  • $229.99 for a 40-inch flat screen TV

Former hotel general manager Colin Bennett told Traveller that he’s seen many guests attempt a conspicuous lift on hotel TV’s. “Looking back over the CCTV footage, we would see a guest walk through a busy reception struggling under the weight of a television set, yet no one would bat an eyelid.”

No doubt this is costly for hotels on the losing end of such a criminal act. Mid-sized flat screens can cost upwards of $200, easily.

Next: Robbery in the name of love

3. Silver coffee pot

man cupping a mug of coffee

Many rely on getting a good coffee pot by stealing it. |

  • $182.37 for a silver-plated coffee pot.

A silver coffee pot was stolen from a room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1938, among other things. Again, the exact value of the real silver pot is unknown, but modern-day silver-plated pots retail for more than $180 online. When the hotel offered an amnesty program for those willing to return what was taken, the thief’s daughter intervened.

She said, “My dad and my mom had a one-night honeymoon in 1938,” she said. “I think going to the Waldorf was a huge deal in those days, huge. There was not a lot of money around. And, the story goes, my dad stole it, basically. Every year on their anniversary, he took it out and served coffee on it.”

Next: Theft in Hollywood

2. Marble fireplace as seen in ‘Pretty Woman’

marble fireplace

Can you believe people get away with this one? | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

  • Unknown

Thieves upped their game when they successfully lifted an entire marble fireplace from the famous Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel in California. This was the very same fireplace featured in the film Pretty Woman. The exact value of the fireplace is unknown, but considering rooms at the Beverly Wilshire start at a casual $745 per night, you can bet the fireplace was worth a pretty penny.

Next: A seriously pricey robbery

1. Andy Warhol painting

A guard stands near the painting "Turquoise Marilyn" by Andy Warhol during a media preview on April 1, 2009

If you ever got caught stealing this painting, you can expect serious consequences. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

  • $300,000 artwork

Telegraph also suggests that one in every three guests, or 33% of people, confessed to stealing artwork during a hotel stay. Depending on the resort, that expense could range from hundreds to millions of dollars. Chandeliers were stolen in Shangri-La and Hong Kong’s W Hotel had a $300,000 Andy Warhol painting lifted from its walls never to be seen again.

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