Missing bathrobes: Hotels discuss popular items taken, left behind by guests

Silver Beach Hotel in downtown St. Joseph is one of the many hotels in Berrien County that have to replace items like towels and batteries that are taken by guests. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Silver Beach Hotel in downtown St. Joseph is one of the many hotels in Berrien County that have to replace items like towels and batteries that are taken by guests. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

It’s no surprise people steal towels and robes from hotel rooms. But would anyone take chair cushions or light bulbs?

While Wi-Fi, parking and breakfast is normally free, guests have been known to take just about anything that isn’t screwed to the floor.

Cody Scott, who works at the front desk at the Silver Beach Hotel in downtown St. Joseph, said the normal items taken from their hotel includes towels, batteries and pillows.

Scott has worked at Silver Beach hotel for six months, but has been working in the hotel trade for eight years. In his time there and at other hotels, Scott has seen just about everything lifted from rooms.

“Light bulbs get stolen more than you think as well,” he said. “The strangest thing I’ve seen taken was a coaxial cable to the TV. When I was with Holiday Inn, sheets would go fast. But that’s because they have the super- high thread count.”

It has been the same type of material stolen for the last decade. Scott attributes this to the fact that hotels are not adding different items to the rooms.

“It’s usually the stuff they think we don’t pay attention to,” Scott said. “The batteries are the ones that get me every time, but I guess they are expensive.”

Cindy Southland, desk manager at Comfort Suites in Lincoln Township, said they haven’t had a lot of items stolen from their rooms.

Once in a while a towel or two will go missing, but Southland said their guests are pretty good about it.

“There is not a lot you can remove from hotel rooms anymore. We get a lot of requests for our pillows and mattresses,” Southland said. “Once in a while the bath towels go down in quantity, but we lose more to wear and tear. I think the most surprising thing stolen was a comforter. How they got it out of here I don’t know, but that was years ago.”

Ricquesha Page works the front desk at Americas Best Value Inn & Suites in Benton Township, and said they have to replace towels on a regular basis.

“We do have to restock often because of that,” she said. “It can cost a lot because they’re nice towels and plush. We can’t stop every guest and check their bags. It is what it is.”

Scott agreed with that sentiment as he said stolen items cost the Silver Beach Hotel about $5,000 a year to be replenished.

“No, it’s not really something you can control,” he said.

Among the common misconceptions many hotels deal with is the idea things like towels and bathrobes are assumed to be complimentary.

“They definitely are not. We don’t charge for them, but no, they are not free to take.”

Forgetful guests

Another norm that each hotel sees outside of stolen items is what guests leave behind.

From eye glasses to shoes and socks, Southland said there is plenty to find in the lost-and-found area in the Lincoln Township motel.

“You name it, they leave it,” she said. “Medications. Bathing suits. We have several boxes full of cellphone chargers. Those are the most popular thing left behind. I think I could start my own store.”

As soon as an item is discovered after the rooms are cleaned, Southland said the guests are called, and if they are still in the area, they try to get someone to pick it up for them. If they are long gone, Southland takes it over to Postal Connections to have it shipped back.

At Silver Beach Hotel, iPads, cellphones and chargers are constantly found when a room is tossed and cleaned.

Scott said the hotel has a lost-and-found bin that is emptied every 90 days if items are left unclaimed.

“We do get rid of the items after a while,” he said. “Strangest thing we find are (adult) toys. Those are left quite often. The main thing to remember is that you have to check to see you have everything and that nothing in the room is acceptable to walk out with, except for maybe shampoos.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@thehp.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 19, 2015)

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