Staff Need to be on High Alert for Larceny

AN31-2-Keeping House-HackerAre all guests larcenists? Some accommodation managers would eagerly reply in the affirmative.

We are not talking about amenities, soap, pens and paper here. And not just coat-hangers, umbrellas and towels either. Or guests that down the miniature of vodka from the mini bar and fill it back up with water.

What about hair dryers, clock/radios and now the latest epidemic - iPod docking stations?

It seems that everything not chained to a concrete floor is fair game.

But one Sunshine Coast resort has lost a 95cm wide flat screen television from a second floor guest room, sight unseen and not recorded on any of several CCTV cameras! Now a 95cm wide flat screen television is not the easiest of items to conceal on one's person or in one's luggage but when the housekeeper entered the room just before noon, the TV had vanished. And the guest had checked out long before.

[Obviously there are investigations ongoing and checks via credit card but there seems to be a discrepancy there as well!]

Clearly the resort in question needs to review its security but it still beggars belief that some one could walk out with something that large unnoticed.

Simply putting the cost of an iPod docking station onto a guest's bill could cause the accommodation manager even more problems. Unless the guest is actually caught in possession of an item it is going to be very difficult to prove that guest had stolen that item, especially after they have left the property. Lumping the cost of such an item onto a guest's credit card is inviting serious recourse from the guest's lawyer, probably hinting at litigation action for false accusation or slander.

It is little wonder that a company has invented a microchip that, when sewn into a towel or dressing robe, alerts the hotel if the item leaves the premises. William Serbin, whose firm sells the trackable linen, says up to 20% of towels and gowns hotels put in their rooms goes missing. A towel with a chip costs about $1 more and the tags can be read by sensors up to 2m away. The tags last for more than 300 wash cycles and have been so successful in US hotels that they are becoming widespread globally.

Surely it is just a matter of time before appliance manufacturers build in similar tracking systems to the technology they sell. After all, these are not items like amenities that are built into the cost of a night's stay and they are not inexpensive items, either.

Another worrying trend is that it seems that the more expensive the item is, the more likely it is to get nicked. 'Less expensive' hair dryers, for example, seem to be left alone while costlier ones walk.

In the case of the Sunshine Coast TV, it was fairly likely the 'guests' were professionals and knew what they were doing and had planned the heist well. A simple check to ensure the credit card was genuine, an ID request at check in or even a car registration may have been some help in recovery but these were not done.

Perhaps a quick room check by the housekeeper on alert by front office at check out time may have prevented the TV leaving the premises at least.

All staff, especially housekeeping and front office staff need to be constantly on high alert. If you think it can't happen in your complex, it probably will.