Every vacation, sadly, comes to an end — but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a little something home with you to help you remember it.
For most of us that means picking up a tiny trinket in a gift shop, a small piece of jewelry, or a work of art to hang on our walls. But for the more rebellious, that little keepsake can be downright criminal.
“People will steal just about anything they can,” David Elton, partner of Home Grown Hotels in the U.K., told the Telegraph. “Bathrobes, coat hangers, bed linen, mattress covers, towels, pillows, toilet-seat covers – pretty much everything in a room.”
As we’ve highlighted in the past, hoteliers frequently don’t mind if you take little things like toiletries — in fact, they’re counting on it. Using it later could remind you of your stay and convince you to come back.
But what about the good stuff like towels and robes?
“It is a crime,” a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told the Telegraph. “If we were to receive allegations, we would follow them up.”
And people really have done hard time for doing the crime. Take for example, the case of Bilikisu Dowodu, a woman in Nigeria who was sentenced to three months in prison in 2010 for stealing just two towels from the Transcorp Hilton Abuja Hotel.
While you’re not likely to actually get arrested for stealing a towel like Dowodu (though let her story serve as a warning), you could end up banned from your favorite hotels.
According to NBC, most major hotels now have a computer data base with a “no stay list” filled with previous patrons who have stolen one too many coffee mugs and are no longer welcome to book a stay. Moreover, NBC reported that hotel chains are happy to share their customer intel with others.
“Get in trouble at a Hilton in Miami, for example, and you may find it hard to get a reservation at a Holiday Inn in Seattle,” NBC wrote. “That’s because extensive databases of individual hotels’ blacklists are being systematically centralized.”
Sure, it may seem silly for hotels to start banning people for just a smattering of kleptomania, but tiny thefts can add up and do big damage to their bottom line.
“We had a guest that was trying to take a large mirror out of the room,” John Bowen, dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston, told ABC. “People get fairly bold in what they try to take out.”
He added that the 86-room property he oversees loses a few hundred dollars each month due to customer theft. And as the American Hotel & Lodging Association found, theft can costs hotels an estimated $100 million a year.
Even if they don’t call the cops on you, they may simply charge you for the stolen item anyway, so really, you’re not getting away with anything.
There’s also another option if you love that robe: Call up the front desk and ask if you can have it, or if it’s for sale. Many hotels (especially those that invested in good robes) have those kinds of items available for purchase.
And if you really, really want to “steal” something, go for the little things that hotels are happy to share with you, like the soap you already used — or maybe even a mug or a few coffee pods if you’re feeling brave.
Leave the sheets, artwork and electronics where they are. It’s not like you can take it on your carry-on anyway.