Hotel Safety -
Having worked in the hospitality/hotel industry a number of years ago, too often I saw out of towners completely victimized. Some may even remember a couple of decades ago, a spike in car jackings in Florida. When the assailants were eventually caught, they gave an interesting insight as to their method of operation. As it turned out, the rental car company used license plates that clearly identified the drivers as out of town, making them a very visible and easy target.
Experienced criminals know who and what to look for. People who give a clear signal that they are from out of town are prime victims. From the criminal’s point of view, the victims are unfamiliar with the landscape of the general area and if victimized, they likely won’t be around to press charges and aggressively pursue justice. I can remember once during the post-Thanksgiving shopping season, a woman traveled from out of state to patron a particular shopping outlet. Perhaps after a long day of shopping and too tired to carry the items into her room, because she was travelling solo, she left them in her car. In the morning prior to leaving she noticed a back passenger window shattered and thousands of dollar’s worth of Christmas gifts gone. She ranted and raved as she couldn’t get cooperation from the hotel management. Despite a deep water well full of sympathy, there was nothing that the hotel could do or even would do. Clearly posted outside in the parking lots was the sign that we’ve all seen as guests in any hotel. “HOTEL IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR CONTENTS LEFT IN VEHICLES”.
As unsympathetic as it may read and sound, the hotel wasn’t legally responsible. All she could do was contact local law enforcement and address the broken window.
Unfortunately this happens far more frequently than some people would think. What can a person do to protect themselves against crime of all types? First and foremost, knowledge is power. Especially in this digital age. Even if it’s a destination that you’ve traveled to numerous times before, what changes or crime issues have taken place in your absentia?
Contact local law enforcement and closest precinct to where you will be staying. Get a copy of all types of criminality in the area for the past 3-5 years. Particularly in most, if not all major American cities and urban areas, detailed crime reports and statistics are compiled for urban planning, land development, property value calculations, and FBI compilations. Even go so far as to Google earth the hotel property and examine surrounding properties. Tell-tale signs of decay, dilapidations, and blight are dead give-a-ways. Clearly not a good choice. The trade-off is that these hotel properties are normally lower priced and people look for economical value rather than safety because they take it for granted.
Always request an upper floor. Hotels tend to prefer to assign rooms from the bottom upwards. However, in the event of a home/room invasion, criminals want quick hit and runs. Stairwells and elevators are not advantageous for such type of criminals and crime. Anything beyond the 1st floor doesn’t make for a clean get away. Furthermore, even if you’re on a higher floor, request a room far enough away from the stairwell. Elevators as well. However, elevators are time consuming while waiting for one.
Stay with your luggage the entire check-in process. It only takes a small distraction and your personal belongings are gone. By nature, travelers pull their wheeled luggage behind them and when standing at the front desk, it is usually behind them. At larger hotels that have a high lobby traffic volume, your luggage can easily and quickly be stolen despite CCTV cameras covering a host of angles. Always place your luggage between you and the check-in counter.
Never allow the front desk employee to say your room number aloud. Instead, have them write it down.
Never be gender specific when you are making a reservation. When asked for gender, you have the right to refuse. There have been “inside jobs” regarding residents in hotels because of an employee alerting criminals that a person with a handicap, female gender, elderly, etc. or is known in advance that they are coming for gambling, shopping at upper bracket income stores, attending grand events such as Super Bowl and other professional sports events. Residents were robbed due to it known in advance that they would be carrying large amounts of cash or even driving certain luxury vehicles.
Upon entering, always inspect your room in order to ensure that all doors and windows have functioning locks.
Always use the hotel’s main entrance. Side doors can easily be propped open and are ideal for criminal use because they tend to be out of main sight.
Always park your vehicle as close to the front entrance as possible. Never leave items visible on the seat. Although an item may not have value to you or not be valuable at all, in the event of a car break in, the damage will perhaps be more than what was stolen or attempted to be stolen.
Always travel with an emergency phone number list consisting of law enforcement, EMT, and other important numbers pertinent to that area.
For extra protection, carry a rubber door stopper. Even if the door lock is compromised, a rubber door stop will slow an intruder down and even deter them altogether.
Leave valuables at the front desk if possible. This way, it can be well documented as to what you have as opposed to having it stolen from your room and have no way of proving that it was in the room, thus unable to prove theft.
Do not leave credit cards, money, valuables, nor even expired room keys out in plain view. A person can obtain the card, have front desk services renew it and gain a non-forced entry into the room.
Always leave a television or radio on while gone. This gives the impression that the room is occupied and will deter an intruder.
Do not wear designer clothes or jewelry while traveling/checking in. This is a dead give-away as to what you possess. This factor, coupled with someone knowing your travels schedule, room number, if/when you’re alone only empowers a would be attacker.
If possible, travel with a firearm. If traveling by plane, check and state guidelines on traveling with firearms. Also call ahead and ask law enforcement of local laws concerning firearms.
Remember, seasoned and professional criminals who specialize in victimizing travelers can spot a potential victim a mile away and know what signs to look for. Follow these rules and you will close the window of opportunity by a significant margin that you will be victimized.