12 Jan 2024

Hotel thefts: The oddest items pocketed by punters

From Summer Times, 11:10 am on 12 January 2024
hotel room abstract interior, lamp near the bed

Photo: 123RF

It's tempting to slip the odd soap, or pen, into your pocket at hotel checkout - low-level thefts in the scheme of things.

But a survey of more than 1300 hoteliers has revealed much larger (and more expensive) items have been pocketed by punters.

Tassilo Keilmann from Wellness Heaven, who conducted the study, said light fingered hotel guests have been known to swipe televisions, coffee machines, mattresses and even a grand piano.

"The most standard items are the most frequently stolen, so ... towels, bathrobes, hangers, pens," he said.

But he recalled a story a hotel manager in Italy told him about a grand piano.

“The hotel manager, he told me this story that once he walked through the lobby and ... noticed that something was missing, he didn't know what in the beginning and then he realised the grand piano was no longer there,” said Keilmann.

Other large items that have been stolen include hunting trophies on the wall of a hotel in France, a sauna bench and even mattresses.

"In one case, [the person] simply pulled the mattress out onto the balcony and threw it off onto the carpark,” he said.

The survey broke down what is stolen by what nationality.

"The Germans for example, follow quite a boring theft behaviour, so they prefer towels and bathrobes, according to the statistics. Austrians they prefer dishes and coffee machines, Americans they like pillows.

"We have heard ... Italians they prefer wine glasses. For Dutch guests, they see more of a practical use and they like light bulbs and toilet paper,” said Keilmann.

While theft was not a particular problem in New Zealand, Hotel Council Aotearoa strategic director James Doolan, admitted anything not bolted down can, and will, occasionally go missing. 

"There's an old saying that if it's not bolted down it will get stolen at some stage and even if it's bolted down it might be stolen as well,” he said.

Common things that are attractive to hotel guests here were things like “little souvenir items”.

“Maybe the soap dish ... the bric-a-brac around the hotel room, particularly now that many hotels do a good job at feeling local, so it might be a nice attractive little plate or a painting or something like that,” said Doolan.

But if you are wondering whether you were a thief for taking the little shampoo bottle, don’t worry, Doolan said that was 100 percent ok to bring back home with you.

"If we start to say you're a thief for taking [small shampoo/conditioner bottles] then you can throw me in prison as well because I've got a good collection of those.