THERE FOR THE TAKING: The most common, and weirdest, things guests steal

Stealing soaps or pens seems harmless for many hotel guests, however, some are so bold that they carry TVs, pianos, mattresses, or even stuffed animals out of the hotel. Wellness Heaven, a German-based luxury hotel and spa guide, asked 1,376 hotel managers which items are most commonly stolen. And the most bizarre.

In particular, the survey observed a striking difference in the theft behaviour between guests in 4-star and 5-star hotels.

The main result of the study: towels and bathrobes are stolen the most –followed by hangers, pens, and cosmetics. But hoteliers equally don’t find the likes of lightbulbs, pillows and even mattresses safe.

The following chart illustrates the extent of the problem:

4-star vs. 5-star

A total of 740 hoteliers from 4-star hotels and 636 from 5-star hotels were surveyed to determine the behaviour of thieves depending on their wealth. As it turns out, “Greed is good” seems to be a reliable motto especially for the well-heeled 5-star clientele, who prefer expensive items.

The probability of tablet computers being stolen in 5-star hotels, is six times higher in comparison to the 4-star segment. Similarly, artworks are popular objects of desire in luxury hotels (4.3x higher theft probability). TV sets (4.9x) and mattresses (5.4x) are also being stolen a lot more frequently in 5-star hotels.

This is quite astonishing: 11.8% of 5-star hotel managers mourn the loss of mattresses, while only 2.2% of 4-star hotels seem to be affected. In total, 91 hoteliers indicate the theft of mattresses in our survey, so at least that many were stolen in their hotels.

Four-star hotel guests are content with less spectacular gifts: towels and hangers tend to be in higher demand than in 5-star hotels. The typical 4-star hotel guest is especially fond of practical items such as batteries and remote controls (theft probability 2.8 and 4.4x higher, respectively).

The most bizarre stolen goods

In addition to these “ordinary” items, there is a number of spectacular outliers that suggest a brisk imagination of the delinquents:

Bathroom fittings: Highly skilled craftsmanship was required of those guests who managed to steal bathroom fixtures, the head of a rain shower, a hydromassage shower, a toilet seat, a drainpipe or even an entire sink, as reported by a Berlin hotel.

A grand piano: A hotelier from Italy: “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.”

Room numbers: In a hotel in England a guest had unceremoniously removed the numbers from his hotel room door. “We didn’t notice until the next guest could not find his room”, the hotel director declares.

Stuffed hunting trophies: In a hotel in France, a guest was caught trying to steal a stuffed boar’s head. At a later date, he did receive this trophy: friends bought the precious piece from the hotel and gave it to him as a wedding gift.

Sauna benches: In a hotel near Salzburg, the wooden benches from a sauna were stolen. The “private sauna” was located on the terrace of a spa suite. The benches were made of fragrant pine wood, which probably stirred up the guest’s desire. Only when a subsequent guest criticized the absence of the benches (“Where should I sit in the sauna I can’t relax while standing.”), the hotelier noticed the theft.

HiFi system: A hotel owner from Germany reports on how the entire stereo system of the spa area disappeared: Thieves had apparently dismantled the entire sound equipment overnight and loaded it in their car before they left.

Flowers: The management of a resort in the Maldives reports that it buys new flower arrangements several times a week to replace the missing ones. Maybe the demand for flowers is simply too high due to the many marriage proposals?

Thieving by nationality

When classifying the delinquents by nationality, a different picture emerges. It turns out, for example, that German and British hotel guests follow a rather boring theft behaviour: In addition to towels and bathrobes, primarily cosmetics and toiletries are in the focus.

In contrast, Austrians snitch in a more pleasure-oriented way: dishes and coffee machines appear high up in their theft ranking. It seems they cannot get enough to satisfy their thirst for coffee. For North Americans, pillows and batteries appear as the prime objects of desire.

Italians seem to prefer wine glasses as a hotel souvenir, while the hair dryer ranks high up in the Swiss ranking. The French, on the other hand, steal in a more spectacular manner: they represent the nation that is attracted mainly to TV sets and remote controls.

Dutch hotel guests see in their souvenirs above all the practical benefit: Their favourites include light bulbs and toilet paper.

Trends in hotel thievery

Comparing data with its 2019 survey on theft in hotels, Wellness Heaven reports that “Mini Fridges” have emerged as a new item of desire: 3.3% of surveyed hoteliers indicate theft of this device, leaving the mini bar not only empty, but also warm. The theft of mini fridges is 2.5x more probable in 4-star hotels.

In comparison with 2019, several items of theft are on the rise: coffee makers (6.9% -> 11.4%), mattresses (4.2% -> 6.6%) and tablet computers (12.0% -> 18.3%) have increased significantly. On the other hand, phones (4.8% -> 3.4%), cutlery (33.6% -> 27.5%) and lamps (4.3% -> 4.1%) have decreased in theft probability.


A total of 1,376 responses were evaluated with most respondents based in Europe; 740 hoteliers were surveyed in the 4-star segment, and 636 in the 5-star segment.

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First published at Travel Industry Today


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