Like two women tied up last month in New
He threw her to the floor, tied her hands behind her back with a bathrobe sash, put a pillowcase over her head and choked her.
"I resisted vigorously, and he left," says Tubbs, a hospitality consultant in
"We're absolutely seeing an increase in crime at hotels," says Philip Farina, CEO of Enterprising Securities, a
Security industry veterans like Farina say that the hard economic times are especially driving up incidents of theft, including the amount perpetrated by hotel staff. Hard times are also prompting cuts in security at some hotels. As a result, they say, guests must take more responsibility for their own safety by being more vigilant when they arrive and after checking in.
"The current (economic) downturn is associated with significant cuts in security," says Dave Wiggins, a member and former president of the
Many in the hotel industry dispute that hotels are any less safe now, especially after security was beefed up following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, disagrees with the security experts. He says there is no evidence crime is on the rise.
John Wolf, spokesman for
Car break-ins also a problem
The fact is nobody knows how much crime is committed in hotels vs. elsewhere. Police don't keep statistics on that, and no hotel companies responded to
A 2009 study that examined crimes reported by 64
The study, authored by criminology professors at Ball State University and a hospitality professor at
Nearly half those crimes against guests were thefts, and 38% occurred in the hotel rooms. Car break-ins in hotel lots represented 13% of the crimes. More crimes occurred in the afternoon than any other time during a day.
Insurance claims also don't give an accurate gauge of how much theft occurs.
Richard Dahm, whose division of
Hotels, though, may not file insurance claims just as they may not report crime to police, Farina says. "Hotels are notorious for wanting to protect their brand or image," he says.
Michael Brown, a Ball State criminology professor and co-author of the Miami Beach crime study, says guests also may not make reports.
"Hotel guests may also assume that they misplaced their items or the lost property is not worth the time and hassle to report the incident to hotel staff or police," Brown says.
Brown says that while there are no reliable data, "Research strongly suggests that most hotel crimes are committed by hotel employees."
Security in parking facilities
In many instances, it's easy to do. An employee at a luxury San Antonio hotel was arrested last year for stealing iPods and other items from guest rooms, says Farina, who wouldn't identify the hotel. The employee also ripped out checks from the middle of guests' checkbooks, apparently hoping the thefts would go undetected, he says.
But hotel employees certainly aren't entirely to blame, and guests have to bear some responsibility. Hotel parking facilities, which may be owned by a hotel, a municipality or a contractor, are vulnerable, too, if people leave their belongings in their cars.
Frequent business traveler Matthew Daecher of
"I guess it didn't go as quickly as planned, because they didn't get in and just damaged my car," says Daecher, the president of a transportation risk consulting company. "Or they decided to concentrate on the truck next to my car, where they did get in and stole a laptop and other items."
Hotel crime can be violent, too, as the "Craigslist killer" crimes at New England hotels pointed out.
The women reportedly met their assailant by posting ads for their services on the Craigslist classified advertising website. Prosecutors in
Markoff has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. And Marriott International did not comment on the slaying at its Boston hotel. Marriott takes "the safety and security of our guests very seriously," and its hotels have "many protections and procedures" in place, spokesman Wolf says.
But those incidents aren't isolated ones.
A woman was allegedly raped May 1 at the Radisson Hotel Boston parking garage by the same man who allegedly raped another woman in the garage on April 19. Jose Ruben Rivera III, who is homeless, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Two gunmen killed a man and a teenage boy, and wounded three others, on April 11 in a second-floor room at the Knights Inn in Rosemead, Calif. The
In Galena, Ill., a guest found the front-desk clerk unconscious after a man walked through the front door of the DeSoto House Hotel on April 4, assaulted the clerk with a knife and stole $500. In March, the clerk was robbed by another man with a gun who also stole $500.
Violent crimes such as armed robbery occur more frequently at small hotel properties near highways or in high-crime neighborhoods, says Norman Bates, a security consultant and former security director at three Boston hotels.
'Responsible for myself'
McInerney of the hotel association says hotels understand the importance of guest safety and — despite a severe downturn in travel — have made few cuts in security staffs.
Many hotels have security staff that periodically patrol hallways on guest-room floors, and many limit access to some floors with rooms for high-paying and frequent guests. But, at most hotels, non-guests have easy access to guest-room floors.
"Allowing non-guests on guest floors provides opportunities to commit crimes," Brown says. "It is perhaps the best practice to require guests to chaperone non-guests."
Security experts such as Farina say a hotel's security precautions can easily be compromised, and hotels need to take other measures. For instance, he says, using security staff to perform other hotel duties during tough economic times is asking for trouble.
"Security staff may be asked to deliver a meal to a room or taken off security for 20 minutes to help with housekeeping," says Farina. "Twenty minutes is a lot of time for something to happen."
He also says that hotels should require housekeepers and other employees to politely confront non-guests in hallways and ask whether they need help finding their room. "The last thing a criminal wants is for an employee to remember them," he says.
Tubbs, the former hotel manager who was assaulted in an
Check-in, shuttle-bus and restaurant employees need better security training, she says.
Keep room number private
Staff at front desks shouldn't announce a guest's room number at check-in, Tubbs says, because it could be valuable information for a criminal targeting a traveler. Nor, she says, should drivers or restaurant staffs call out guests' room numbers.
"One of my pet peeves is hotel breakfast staff asking for my room number," she says. "Why should everyone in the general vicinity hear my room number?"
Despite her concerns, Tubbs says, she feels safe at the hotels she chooses.
"Since my encounter in 1999, I have rejected hotel rooms because they were too isolated or across from stairwells, or because the clerk announced my room number aloud," she says. "I take responsibility for making myself safe."
|TIPS FOR HAVING A SAFE STAY|
These tips from government officials and hotel security experts may help ensure a crime-free hotel stay:
Source : USAToday
[tags : malaysiahotelnews hotels malaysia resorts news travel tourism travel tourism news]