Family Caught on Video With Stolen Items From Their Hotel: What’s OK to Take?

A video going viral on social media shows a family caught by their hotel in Bali with items in their luggage stolen from the hotel. Points of Arabia explains that the family got into an argument with hotel staff, and the property demanded they open their bags for inspection. They were caught with stolen items from their room. One stolen piece after another gets revealed.

What Are the Most Extreme Thefts?

A former Starwood GM reports the theft of a grand piano from his lobby. Some guests walk out with the TV from their room. Another GM reports a guest unscrewing the room number off their door for a souvenir.

How about,

sections of carpet, light fittings, mirrors and even curtains. …a medieval sword, door hinges and a 4ft wooden bear. .. One gentleman staying at the famous Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel – which featured in the film Pretty Woman – is alleged to have taken the entire marble fireplace. … a couple staying at an American Holiday Inn specifically requested a room near the car park. They then proceeded to empty the entire contents of said room (bed, furniture, the lot) into their handily-parked U-Haul.

Now we know why some chains mount hair dryers to the wall.

What Can You Take from a Hotel?

Hotels actually want you to take the toileteries. They don’t want you to raid the housekeeping cart — many of those now lock down when unattended, whereas in years past they used to be completely open. But the ones in your room? Clean those out, the hotel hopes you will think of them and the brand when you use them.

Hyatt specifically implores you to do it.

Beyond toileteries,

The most common items taken by British travellers were stationary (20 per cent admitted taking such items) and slippers (12 per cent).

What Happens When You Cross the Line?

Some hotels have taken to RFID tags to detect when towels leave the property.

[O]ne hotel that has saved $16,000 per month by reducing its towel thefts each month from 4000 down to 750 by attaching washable RFID tags to its towels. I assume that they aren’t actually tracking down towel thiefs, rather by letting guests know that the towels are tagged this serves as a deterrent. Presumably the deterrent would work just as well by telling guests that the RFID tags are in the towels, without any need to make the actual investment, at least as long as they are able to keep their lack of technology investment a secret.

More than warning you, or even catching you, there can be real consequences to theft in some places:

In Japan a few years ago, one hotel reportedly had a young couple arrested for running off with bathrobes and an ashtray, while a woman in Nigeria was sentenced to three months in prison for stealing two towels from the Transcorp Hilton Abjua Hotel.

Too bad they didn’t take advantage of towel amnesty.

What Do You Take from Hotels?

What do you consider yours, as part of the room rate? What do you feel a little guilty about? And what wouldn’t you ever take?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Gene, better yet, don’t ever stay at a Trump Hotel! Though u probably could walk out with a white hood left from a previous guest

  2. Lol lol lol love these comments:

    “This family was caught stealing hotel accessories. Such an embarrassment for India.

    “Each of us carrying an #IndianPassport must remember that we are ambassadors of the nation and behave accordingly.

    “India must start cancelling passports of people who erode our credibility.”

    So much for the so-called world’s largest democracy … one sticky-fingered thief somehow represents an entire nation of 1.3 billion and therefore thief should have the passport cancelled.

  3. Evidently some hotels still send housekeeping to check the room prior to letting departing guests leave the premises. I’d forgotten that this used to happen until yesterday when checking out of an Accor property in Bangkok: I paid the bill and was set to leave, but the clerk said: “please wait a moment”, “ housekeeping will check the room”.
    I guess they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t lose stuff through theft. But I wouldn’t stay in such a place again.

  4. Gene and Allen your comments aren’t funny. This is a travel blog not an alt-left political blog. Keep your childish comments to yourself.

    BTW I do take toiletry items as I give them to homeless shelters and battered women shelters. They really appreciate it.

  5. Gene And Allen, both of you Need to get a life. Both comments are very unnecessary and unrelated to the question.

    I take most toiletries and when we have enough we donate them to a homeless shelter or veterans home.

  6. Slippers I can see taking. If they have been worn they would have to toss them. A matter of hygiene!

  7. I never take take the toiletries as they are usually in plastic bottles. I wish hotels would not use single-use plastic…so bad for the environment.

  8. Maybe the guests thought the mandatory Resort Fee covered the miscellaneous items? I mean, what’s the difference between Resort Fee’s and lifting some soap?

  9. My brother used to work at a Loews Hotel. One year they had a sale of items that were in the rooms. I got like 10 towels for like $10 and a couple of trash cans. Another friend who came over directly called me a thief when they saw the towels.

  10. @Gene and Allen. If you do not like the President, why don’t you leave until 2024. There are many countries that love anti-USA people like you. Edward Snowden for example, stole American data, released it, then moved to Moscow. He was welcomed with open hands. Many have betrayed the United States and then flown to friendly anti-USA countries. Charlie Hill for example, was accused of killing a cop in 1971, hijacked a plane to Cuba for asylum, and lives there still.

    But Gene and Allen, you don’t even have to go to such an extreme as hijacking a plane. Move to a beach in Costa Rica, Thailand, Panama, or the cities, London, Paris, or Germany and live a great life. You can even write an anti-USA blog from those countries. I have seen many. If you are in Thailand, you can insult President Trump all you like, just be respectful of the King. WTH, before President Trump was elected, there were intellectuals all over the world that trashed him. They would welcome you, anti-USA American with open arms. [Probably you do not have to skills to move to Australia or Canada. Immigration works a little differently there. Just saying.]

  11. Toiletries, slippers, pens, and stationary. I donate all the slippers and toiletries to a homeless shelter. If more hotels had souvenir keycards with the property’s name and location on it or stationary that is branded then guests might be happy with those things. I’m always amazed at how even nice hotels in touristy destinations don’t have souvenir postcards or letterhead — cheap souvenirs and free advertising for the hotel.

  12. The hotel these thieves committed their crimes is The Royal Purnama. Base rates starting at $350.00 USD and up. Looking at the size of their crew they obviously had more than 1 room or a large $1000+ USD Villa at this 5-Star property. Note that the video is a clip and there are more bags to inspect. So disrespectful! A Balinese friend and nearby Hotel Mng messaged me that the Royal Purnama eventually charged them 3 times the value of the stolen items rather than calling the Police which would have resulted in arrest and jail.

  13. I used to take the toiletries but I stopped doing it several years ago because of the plastic waste. I was happy to see during recent travels in Japan and Europe that a lot of places have switched to providing larger, refillable bottles of shampoo and soap. This should become the norm. What made me laugh was a Marriott Courtyard in Tokyo that did both: large refillable bottles and smaller containers to take away, obviously intended for people to remember the brand. It kind of defeats the purpose of trying to reduce plastic waste.

  14. This has been going on forever. In the 1929 Marx Brothers movie The Cocoanuts……..

    Groucho: Hey, hey! You know that suitcase is empty?

    Chico: That’s all right. We fill it up before we leave.

  15. I like the slippers because I use them on my flights. Many airlines do not give out slippers. Who wants to step on those nasty airplane lavatory floors? I do like Intercontinental pens, which are very nice. Most hotel pens are cheap. The lotion bottles/tubes are very convenient. I do not use hotel shampoos because many times they contain a chemical that causes me to break out in a vicious eczema rash. Most hotels don’t have postcards anymore. If they have envelopes, I take one for my receipts. Helps keep my wallet thinner. But anything else I would not even dream of taking.

    And for the record, I will never stay at a trump property. Ever!

  16. I take pens , envelopes, slippers and toiletries. The real question is, what do you take from hotel lounges the night before you leave ?! I recently spent 3 nights at a Ritz Carlton resort before spending a week at another resort and the night before I left the Ritz , I took a bottle of wine and a bottle of tequila from the self serve self, I only did it because I saw a very old lady take 8 beers from the lounge.

  17. @ OtherJustSaying et al — Grow some skin and a sense of humor. Donald Trump is a con man, and I am far from a moron or anti-USA.

  18. I stayed at a wonderful hotel that had such fluffy towels I could hardly close my luggage. That’s a joke. Please, your more sensitive readers, I don’t need your self righteous reply. Let’s try to stay on subject and avoid political and hate comments from both sides.

  19. @ Gene, Allen – funny, but this is not the place for political humor.

    @ AC – They’re jokes, relax.

    @ Mike – Those jokes are appropriate in more than alt-left blogs. But not appropriate here.

    @ Other Just Saying – Political commentary and activism, and open discourse, are/should be encouraged (in the proper forum), not shunned as un-American. They obviously don’t belong here, as this is not the place for politics, but that’s a matter of venue, not substance.

    The speech is both lawful and directed at something other than America or its principles; thus, not un-/anti-American. You know what’s unbecoming of an American? Telling those with strong opinions that don’t mirror your own to leave.

  20. Toiletries are the only thing I take anymore and even then only if its decent quality stuff. Many years ago when I would backpack and would spend most of the trip in hostels I would stay my first night in a regular hotel and take a single towel (since a lot of hostels did not provide them) and then carry that towel with me for the rest of my trip. That was many many years ago though and back then I believe most hotels were building towel theft into the pricing of the room.

  21. I think most things guests take are ‘stationary’.
    Does Gary not know ‘stationery’ is not different American or British or was it the person quoted?

  22. Oh the irony of the comments from @Other Just Saying: Trump tells immigrants to stay put in their tumultuous countries and try to fix their political systems, but then his supporters tell those that don’t like him to up and leave.

  23. Geez, when did this site get so culturally polarized? Don’t we all just want to travel well? A little self restraint is in order all around. *Please*

  24. @George and Taylor. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Wait, you hate it here, but won’t leave. Darn.

    If Gene and Allen do not make anti-Trump jokes, which is also aimed for anyone that supports the President. Then they, and people like George, JohnB, Taylor do not have to have virtue signal when I mock them. To quote Gene-tic (who has self identified as not “a moron or anti-USA”) “Grow…a sense of humor”. To which I add, it is a two way street. Personally, I think my comments above are hilarious.

  25. I’m introducing a bill to nationalize all hotels in the US. It will require hotels to provide all rooms for free. Items provided in rooms will be provided for free, you are free to take them (beds, sheets, curtains, old fat back balack and white TV’s that receive only Government channels, etc). Lounges will also be closed – those fall under the bourgeois rules and will be converted to more free rooms. Food will be provided, free of course as will drinks, which I maybe serving at the free bar in the lobby.

    This will be paid for by taxing the rich. Congress people will be exempted of course from this onerous tax obligation.


  26. @Bill,
    “A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

    More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”
    ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  27. Gene and Allen can’t help themselves. Typical Liberals who resort to name calling and degrading when they lose.
    It is getting old. Trump is far from racist but it makes them feel good to degrade him. Shame they can’t see what it looks like, so juvenile.

  28. I bring my own shampoo which I use for hair, face, body, and hands, so I don’t even touch the hotel toiletries, let alone take them. I can’t think of a single thing I’ve helped myself to while in a hotel. Now flying is another animal. I have a teaspoon (if it has the airline’s logo) from each airline I’ve flown international Business or First.

  29. obviously Gene and Allen are not from America as they openly mock a president whom is actually looking out for AMERICA and its citizens, not for his own pocket and for other countries, he was elected by American citizens to serve America”s interests ,like him or not , with any help at all from the Dems just think what COULD have been accomplished on top of what already has despite constant attacks and investigations and a media that is 90% biased against his administration..

  30. given that over 50% of Americans disapprove of DJT, and a net disapproval rating is -10% or so, Gene and Allen are in tune with far more Americans than people like Dean, who thinks that the most nepotistic, corrupt President in history is not looking out for his own pocket. And gosh, some of us are old enough to remember 8 Benghazi investigations, and dozens of investigations in the Clinton era. Then again, Russian bots are not known to have long memories.

  31. @George Thank you for your clear and relevant points.

    @Megan Now you have me thinking about our upcoming trips LOL

    @Dean Please stop perpetuating the idea that #45 supporters are ill-informed and angry people who are so gullible they believe easily-disproven lies, which you’re doing by posting comments that are ill-informed and easily disproven. And please focus on the topic.

  32. I take pens 90% of the time and the pads of paper since I usually fill them with notes in an attempt to kill more trees. I used to take the shampoo and soaps and then stopped since I stay in so many hotels I just don’t need anymore but then I started saving the bar soap again since we seem to be headed toward a world of “shower gel” dispensers only. I can’t wait until those get stolen (a lot). I prefer bar soap to feel clean. I know I’m likely killing dolphins somehow with my choice there so please don’t attack me like @JT’s Democratic friends (that was a joke just for those in Rio Linda) 🙂

  33. @Dean and @Other Just Saying — Asking someone to leave the country because YOU don’t like what they are saying is not only un-American, it is simply preposterous. This country was founded on the principle of free speech. Homogenization is something done to milk, not to thinking or discourse.

    This is our country (all of us), and small-minded people who tell other American citizens to leave if they criticize it need a remedial course in our Constitution and our history. This includes people holding high office (maybe more so).

  34. Oh yeah, as to what I take… the pens and the decaf. I figure the pens cost less than some other stuff they’re okay with you taking (but leave for the next guest if untouched), so I leave the other stuff and take the pens. Nice souvenir. As for the decaf, I drink it very rarely, and making it from a sealed package is better than from a bag opened weeks ago.

    @DaninMCI – I hate the feeling of hotel toiletries in general. The body wash and shampoo feel like Suave (i.e. horrible), and the bar soap always feels like it didn’t rinse off. The soap and body wash parts apply to everything from budget to luxury properties, though the shampoo at higher-end hotels seems to be fine.

  35. New Handles:

    (1) CNN’s Retired Lawyer. CNN sets the talking points. I teased you with a reference to leaving the country. You repeated the talking points, like a bird brain parrot. WTH. I told them to go to some of the best places in the world.
    (2) George the Sanctimonious Twit. Did you see how he was oozing with moral superiority. Discussing both sides before coming down with the wisdom of Solomon. Arrogance go before the fall.
    (3) Valley Ca Girl. Lol. Gag me with a spoon.
    (4) Altered Gene-tics. Not sure if you are with Charles Xavier or Magneto. Pro-human or anti-human.
    (5) Allen the stooge. (from before). BTW. I have a gold mine interest in Alaska to sell you. Everyone says that gold is going to pop. LOL. There is an easy mark born every minute.

  36. To Gene and Allen, the racist, clueless leftists: This is a TRAVEL BLOG, not a forum to spew hate and ignorance. I’m sure that whoever runs this blog and lets your comments remain is as bad as you; therefore, beginning now, I’ll continue to enjoy and get all the information I can from this blog, but NEVER click on ANY of his links, as I wish not to support hate; rather, I’ll click on credit card and other links and give my business to more civil people who don’t insult half the country with unnecessary dumb-ass statements.

  37. Gary dont you no itor your posts? You need to step up and these political morons here your article is about travel. You should be moderating your blog. For this I will not be following YOUR posts anymore. You are the one responsible for your article.

  38. @ Other Just Saying says

    Unfortunately, your perceptions of Australian immigration are way off beam…the reality: 100,000s refugee arrivals by plane in 2-3 year-long cycle of bridging visas working in the country with access to universal healthcare…you have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to Oz

    .. but, hey, such easy sport to dent the reality of the right-wing apologists with some basic facts and figures…cue the denials and personal insults…

    …keep your right-wing trash and your gun-toting NRA in your own country, fella…

    ..and your disgusting racism – my wife is a Latina immigrant – the sort that your POTUS and your nazi rallies would…stay away from Australia…all reasonable and decent folk (like the vast majority of my US mates) welcome

  39. @ platy

    I’ve been to oz multi times. You can keep your ignorance down there where it belongs. It’s drunken, ignorant aus-holes like you that make never want to return.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *