Items most stolen from hotels by guests - report

A hotel room in Kampala. Thieves target bedsheets, towels, sandals, among other items. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Mr Otto said such theft cases are very hard to solve because almost all the time, the property is discovered missing long after the guest has checked out.

A German hotel guide, Wellness Heaven, has released an intriguing study on items most stolen from hotels by guests. 

The researchers talked to 1,376 hotel managers and found that besides the harmless and mundane items like soaps and toilet paper, some brazen hotel guests can pull off real heists targeting such items as TVs, pianos, and mattresses.

The study found that globally, the most stolen hotel items were towels and bathrobes, followed closely by hangers, pens, and cosmetics.

But away from these ordinary thefts, the company found out some astonishing robberies left the mind at a loss. Here are some high crimes that the study chanced upon:

Room number
One guest stole the room number off the door. It was probably his lucky number. This happened in England according to the study. “We didn’t notice until the next guest could not find his room,”  the hotel director said.

Bathroom fittings
For this, one would have to check with specialised tools. It was found that some guests have been able to steal bathroom fixtures like the shower head, a hydromassage shower, and even a toilet seat. Toilet drainpipes and entire sinks have not been spared.

A grand piano
An average grand piano weighs a whopping 320 kilogrammes. One hotelier from Italy recounted a story of how he lost his: “Once I walked through the lobby, I noticed that something was missing, and soon after I learned that three unknown men in overalls had taken away the grand piano, and it never reappeared, of course.”

The Uganda case
Mr Charles Otto, the housekeeping manager at Kampala Serena Hotel, says the case is not different in Uganda.

“The commonest item stolen by our guests is the towel. Other items are flat irons, bed sheets, and sandals. Sometimes, an unexpected robbery happens where a guest checks out with a TV set,” he says.

Mr Otto adds that such theft cases are very hard to solve because almost all the time, the property is discovered missing long after the guest has checked out.

He says it would be a different matter if the guest was caught red-handed. Asked why they don’t call back with the registered contact to get the items back, Mr Otto’s answer is an emphatic no.

“We don’t call back the offending guests to try and get back the items because we don’t want to make our current guests uncomfortable. If a guest hears a phone call like that, they may feel uneasy and we don’t want that,” he says.

However, Mr Maruhe Katambira, who runs Kiho Gorilla Safari Lodge in Bwindi,  has a different experience at his property.

He says people tend to forget their personal belongings at the lodge. Items such as phones, phone chargers, scarves, necklaces, earrings, and shoes. Mr Katambira adds that the only times guests have taken items is when they have requested to pay for them as souvenirs.

“When a guest likes an item, they usually ask to pay for it and take it as a memento. This year, we had four honeymooners request to pay for our branded bathrobes and blankets as they were checking out. No cases of theft,” he says.

Preferences by class and nationality
The review website noted stark differences between kleptomaniacal behaviour between guests in 4-star and 5-star hotels and guests from different countries.

It was found that guests at 5-star hotels prefer expensive items like TVs, mattresses, tablet computers, and artwork while 4-star hotel guests tend towards less spectacular gifts: toilet paper, towels, hangers, batteries, and remote controls. German and British thieves tend to keep it mundane, according to the study. The two nationalities prefer bathrobes, cosmetics, and toiletries.

Austrian thieves tend towards dishes and coffee machines, Americans go for pillows and batteries while French thieves love TV sets and remote controls.