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.
- $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
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
- $12.95 to $15.95 per continental breakfast at the Hilton
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
- $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
- $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
- $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?
- $28.99 per 30-piece set
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
- $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
- $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
- $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
- Roughly $125 for a Ritz Carlton robe
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
- $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
- $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’
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
- $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.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
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