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24 Tips to prevent robberies in hotel rooms

We have all wondered at some point when staying in a hotel and observing how the cleaning staff quickly enter and exit the rooms, while various guests pass by in the hallway: Is it possible for someone to steal from my hotel room? If I get robbed, is the hotel responsible? Well, the answer to both questions is alarming. On one hand, it is indeed possible for your hotel room to be robbed. In fact, although it occurs in very few cases, it happens with a certain frequency in most hotels. On the other hand, unless specified otherwise, the hotel never takes responsibility for personal belongings stolen from the rooms.

Therefore, given this evident risk, it is necessary to take a series of measures to ensure our safety and enjoy our stay with complete peace of mind. Here are 24 simple tricks to prevent theft in your hotel room or vacation rental.


1. Exercise caution when entering and leaving the hotel

Hotel entrances are ideal spots for pickpockets and criminals. When we enter or exit the hotel, we are often loaded with a significant amount of luggage and somewhat distracted. We hastily take the luggage out of the taxi, focus our attention on the driver without paying attention to our bags, we look around with some distance, neglecting our immediate surroundings, or when accompanied by seniors or children, we may not pay attention to our luggage.

It is advisable to be attentive to our belongings at all times during check-in and check-out at our accommodation.


2. Avoid carrying valuable objects

It may seem obvious, but generally, most people end up carrying more luggage than they actually need. When we leave the hotel for a walk or breakfast, we often have the usual existential doubts: “Should I take the laptop or leave it here?”, “I won’t take the camera now, but what if something happens?”, “We’re going to the club for a while; at this hour, it’s better to leave the credit card at the hotel and only carry some cash, or should I take everything?”

When packing, consider what you will actually use, and if you’re thinking of bringing valuable items or clothing, make sure you truly need them and that it won’t be a hassle to carry them with you at all times.


3. Use the safe

If, after analyzing your needs, you have concluded that you must take a valuable object that you cannot carry with you at all times, know that nowadays, most mid to high-level hotels have security safes in each room.

Do not hesitate to use it and make sure you understand the conditions for securing your belongings and the hotel’s responsibility. Generally, there are two aspects:

  • Requesting the service: Some hotels offer it for free, while others charge a fee.
  • Declaring stored objects: Find out if you need to declare a list of the items you store and what the conditions are. Some hotels cover up to a certain amount, while others provide full coverage.


4. Avoid leaving anything in plain sight

Make sure to keep all your belongings well stored in the closet or nightstand in your room. Disorder can lead to two situations:

  • Employees being tempted to take something: Generally, cleaning staff work at a hectic pace, following a strict schedule and control. They don’t have time to rummage through drawers and closets to find valuable items. However, if you make it easy for them, an unscrupulous employee may be tempted.
  • Not noticing the theft: If your room is in disarray, you may not realize that something has been stolen until you need a specific item. In fact, if you notice something missing, you may doubt whether you thoroughly searched the room or if it’s hidden somewhere in your suitcase.


5. Store valuables outside of the suitcase

If an individual manages to enter your room, their first instinct will be to leave as quickly as possible. Therefore, they will most likely check your suitcase or simply take it with them.

If you have something valuable and your accommodation does not have a safe, and you cannot take it with you when leaving the room, always try to store it outside of the suitcase in a hard-to-reach place, such as on top of a wardrobe under sheets or behind a small gap in the nightstand.


6. Deter thieves in an original way

A thief who plans to rob a house and sees a “Beware of the dog” sign will most likely decide to rob the neighboring house instead. Similarly, a thief who wants to break into a store and sees an installed alarm sign will opt to rob another store. It’s that simple. A thief always seeks to minimize risk and will never take chances, even if they haven’t seen a dog or an alarm but only a simple sign.

Therefore, we can take advantage of this situation to create fear in potential thieves and make them choose another room. For example, if you have a laptop and store it in the closet of your hotel room, you could put a note saying “Built-in GPS – Seriously, don’t steal it,” even if there is no built-in GPS. This will make them think twice.


7. Install anti-theft devices

If you want to take extreme measures, you can use luggage locks and attach them to a fixed piece of furniture in the room using a cable. Many hotel rooms and closets have fixtures specifically designed for securing luggage or other objects.

You can purchase a multi-purpose locking cable that can be used for various items such as tablets, mobile phones, laptops, etc.


8. Avoid providing excessive information about your stay

Even if you trust the hotel staff and have conversations with them, be aware that other people might be listening. For example, if you’re staying at a hotel for a wedding, avoid mentioning that specific reason, as it would reveal that you have valuable attire, wedding gifts, and possibly jewelry. Simply state that you’re visiting a family member and keep it concise. Remember that hotel staff members are generally not concerned with the personal situations of their guests; they are there to assist you and provide a pleasant experience.


9. Use discreet luggage

If you have older suitcases and are considering buying new, high-end ones before your trip, think twice. Flashy luggage attracts attention and implies that you may be carrying more valuable items. If you genuinely need a new suitcase, opt for a moderately sturdy one with an incorporated lock, which should suffice.

Ensure that your suitcase doesn’t reveal its contents. For instance, if you’re carrying a laptop or a high-quality camera, avoid using the original packaging, which prominently displays the brand and shape.


10. Don’t give away clues with your attire

If possible, try not to give away hints about your wealth through your clothing, even if it doesn’t reflect your actual financial status. For example, if you’re attending a Formula 1 race and staying at a modest hotel, refrain from walking around the hotel corridors or constantly entering and exiting your room wearing a Formula 1 team shirt. The sport is associated with the upper class, despite anyone being able to attend a race.


11. Ensure the door closes properly

Hotel room doors are constantly opened and closed by guests and staff, which can lead to wear and tear on the locks.

It is advisable to check that your room door closes securely and cannot be forced open without the proper key or card.


12. Leave lights on

One practical way to deter potential intruders from entering your hotel room is to simulate your presence. Burglars often target unoccupied rooms.

Therefore, leaving lights or the television on can create the illusion that someone is inside, particularly when you leave the hotel, especially at night.


13. Be cautious with balconies

In coastal hotels, balconies are frequently adjacent to each other, making it relatively easy to jump from one balcony to another. We have all seen images of intoxicated tourists jumping from balconies or into pools.

Keep in mind that anyone could enter your room through the balcony, so always remember to close and secure the balcony door or sliding window when you leave.


14. Close the windows

Similar to balconies, windows in hotels are often close to one another, allowing easy access for unauthorized individuals. Always make sure to close and secure the windows before leaving the hotel room.


15. Use the security latch

Although it may not be entirely necessary, when inside your hotel room, especially when sleeping, it never hurts to lock the main door with the latch (if available, of course). There is always a possibility of key and room mix-ups at the reception, or the same card mistakenly opening multiple doors due to a computer error (as I experienced myself in a hotel a few years ago).


16. “Do Not Disturb” sign

This point is not essential and depends on your personality. If you highly value your privacy and do not tolerate any unknown person invading your personal space, don’t hesitate to hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room door when you leave. This way, no hotel staff will enter your room, ensuring not only your privacy but also preventing any theft. Keep in mind, however, that your bed won’t be made or your bathroom cleaned.


17. Avoid ground and first floors

If you have the opportunity to choose your floor, avoid the ground floor or the first floor, as they are easily accessible from the outside for potential thieves. The higher the floor, the better for your security and also for the views!


18. Be cautious of rooms with adjoining doors

Although not very common nowadays, there are hotels with adjacent rooms that can be connected through a sliding door. Access to the other room from the inside is only possible if both locks are open. Therefore, ensure that your lock is securely closed, as occupants of the other room could enter yours by opening their lock.


19. Leaving the key or card at the reception?

Some people habitually leave their room key or entry card at the hotel reception whenever they leave. Indeed, in a crowded place, it wouldn’t be a bad idea since someone who takes your card or key would have full access to your room, as they indicate the hotel’s address and room number.

However, if the hotel is very large, busy, and the reception staff is overwhelmed with work, keep in mind that anyone who confidently asks at the reception, “Could I have the key to room X, please?” will most likely be given the key without further verification. So, depending on the situation, it’s advisable to act accordingly.


20. Choose a good hotel

If you select a high or mid-range quality hotel, it will have much more effective security systems to prevent possible thefts, such as higher-quality locks, security guards, surveillance cameras, etc.

Additionally, a reputable hotel usually has a more stable staff who have been working there for years. These employees are unlikely to risk their jobs by stealing from guests, as they have already demonstrated their trustworthiness throughout their tenure. On the other hand, lower-quality hotels often experience high turnover among their staff, with temporary workers constantly coming and going. In this case, it is more likely that a temporary worker, knowing they won’t continue in the next tourist season, might be tempted to commit theft.


21. Choose a good location

Let’s be realistic: all cities have their areas, and it’s true that some have a higher risk of theft than others. Get well informed about the location you’re traveling to and avoid conflict-ridden areas with higher crime rates. There could even be individuals waiting for you outside your accommodation to follow you around the city.

If you can’t choose the area where your hotel or vacation rental is located, take extra precautions if the neighborhood is known for frequent thefts targeting tourists.


22 Check accommodation reviews

It’s important to read reviews from other guests who have stayed at the hotel or vacation rental you’re considering. Apart from gaining insight into the actual condition of the accommodation, you can obtain firsthand information about its security measures and the safety of the surrounding area.


23. Stay aware of your surroundings

Despite being on vacation or focusing on work during a business trip, try to remain attentive to your surroundings at all times, especially when leaving your room. If you suspect someone wandering around the corridor, observing who enters and exits the rooms, it never hurts to inform the reception. They will send someone to ensure that there is no one inside the hotel who is not a guest or an employee.


24. Purchase travel insurance

If you find that the aforementioned points are not sufficient for your specific situation, you can always reduce the risk of theft or loss to 100% by purchasing travel insurance.

If you decide to get it, make sure you understand what it covers and that you don’t already have similar coverage in other insurance policies you may have, as many personal insurance policies already provide certain protections during trips abroad.


Final Conclusion

At this point, it’s important to know that it is not necessary to implement all the advice explained above. Consider them as references and adopt the ones that best suit your specific situation and personality. By doing so, you will significantly reduce the possibility of experiencing theft or robbery in your hotel. If you still prefer to take no risks, you can always consider the option of purchasing travel insurance tailored to your personal situation.

If you found this article on how to prevent thefts in hotels interesting, you might also be interested in knowing what to do if you experience a theft in your hotel. Feel free to check out our next article: “What to do if you are robbed at a hotel”.