Their valuables disappeared from the hotel safe — and so did the hotel safe

How safe is the safe in your hotel room? If you’re Steve DeLucia, not as safe as you think.

DeLucia recently checked into the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Copenhagen before a cruise vacation. He stored all of his valuables in the safe.

“When we were to leave in the morning, we slid the sliding doors that covered the safe and found that the entire safe had been pulled from the wall and taken,” he says.

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That sounds like the plot of Fast Five, minus the drama.

He continues,

I immediately called security and up to the room they came. They, too, were in shock.

We were told this had never happened in the hotel before. I asked them to call the police, which they did, and a report was made.

I asked to see the video tapes for the floor so we could see who entered the room. To our shock they did not have cameras on any of the floors or the elevators.

When they did a door key history check all that was found was housekeeper — and us.

So what was in the safe? About $45,000 worth of watches, wallets and DeLucia’s passport, he says.

When he asked the hotel to cover his loss, here’s how it responded:

I am afraid that I have to inform you that the Hotel cannot assume any responsibility for the missing belongings, as the police report does not suggest any trace of the hotels involvement.

I trust you have reported the loss to your insurance company in order to have your loss covered.

I am so deeply sorry that this had to happen to you. Despite, I do hope that you will chose to stay at the Royal Hotel again or at any other Radisson Blu hotel.

DeLucia is disappointed by that response. His insurance will only cover a small part of the loss, and he thinks the hotel should take care of the rest.

I’m no expert on Danish lodging laws, but most countries limit the liability of an innkeeper, even when items are placed in a safe. That’s one reason I recommend travelers leave their jewelry and other valuables at home. (Update: Reader Vlad Ioan-Luca, an attorney based in Bucharest, says the law may offer DeLucia some options, if he wants to pursue the matter. For example, section 7.9 of Dutch civil law provides some remedies. I’m trying to determine if Danish laws have similar provisions.)

In cases like this, I’ve seen the hotel make a goodwill offer, either adjusting the room rate or offering a voucher for a future stay. A simple “sorry” just didn’t seem like an appropriate response to me.

I sent an email to the same manager, asking about this issue. He didn’t respond.

Now what? I could take this matter to corporate Radisson, asking it to look into the incident and ensure it responded to DeLucia appropriately. I’m not sure if I should.

If Radisson offers anything to this customer, it probably would be in the interests of good customer service.

At the same time, if a hotel is going to put a “safe” in a room, shouldn’t it stand behind it? I mean, what’s the point of having a safe if someone can waltz right into your hotel room and take the darned thing?

Should I try to mediate this case, and if so, what should DeLucia reasonably expect?

120 thoughts on “Their valuables disappeared from the hotel safe — and so did the hotel safe

  1. So either they took the safe and claimed 45K worth of valuables are missing or inn keeper took the safe? Neither sounds reasonable, but I’ve been shocked before.   Were they on a ground floor?  Was there a window?  45K is a lot and I don’t think the hotel should be liable for that amount of money.   If someone has 45K worth of valuables they either have a lot of money to spare or they should have insurance for those specific items.  If you own it, you might as well wear it, but at least insure it.    I think that the hotel should now invest in a video security system.  That would show that they acknowledge they have a theft issue, and care enough about their guest to do something about it.   They may not be able to prevent all crime, but they can help deter it.  I take it with a grain of salt that they say “this has never happened before.” Who knows… can you get past crime repots for a specific location in that country? Will the police release that info? Sorry to the person who is out a lot of money.. this is one expensive bill for tuition of life.
    Sounds like you have already mediated… you emailed them and didn’t get a response. It would have been nice if they had offered them some type of compensation, like a refund for the room, and maybe a comped week.
    Also, what happen with the cruise vacation? The cruise lines I have been on won’t let you on without a passport since most cruises go from country to country.

    1. This one is simple: housekeeper opens the door to clean. Leaves it open. Someone waltzes in and takes it. The question is how did they know about the valuables and who was the someone?

      Assuming it was not an inside job, now the op needs to be worried about identity theft as well

      1. Which is exactly WHY the hotel IS responsible for the theft, regardless of twhat they want to say. the room was occupied by a guest and there is no legitimate reason why the door would or should be left open. So, either the housekeeper stole the safe, or they were working with someone who did. In either case, it seems hotel staff had involvement.

        1. That was my first thought, and I would believe that had happened if the safe wasn’t ripped out of the wall.  That was bound to make a lot of noise. Maybe an inn keeper’s boyfriend?  I dunno… but that leaves a question?  What is the cap of liability.  50K, 100K, 1 million?    no cap? There is just too many variables to make the hotel responsible. It article doesn’t say “we were gone for x amount of time, came back, and our valuables were gone.” It only says they went to get them before they left. When was the last time they saw them? If they were there only one night then housekeeping shouldn’t have been in their room while they were checked in unless this hotel offers turn down service.

      2. This suggests that the maid would have been oblivious to someone tearing a safe out of the wall. Not sure that’s very likely. Even if the maid stepped out of the room and left the door open how quickly would someone be able to remove the safe and make it to the elevator/stairs. 

        For that matter, what are the chances that someone could go unnoticed carrying a safe through a popular hotel.

  2. I’d want this taken to corporate Radisson, if only to hear their response.  I sympathize with DeLucia, what a terrible situation.  At the same time, who travels with 45K of valuables?  Sounds to me they were staked out and it wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t discreet in keeping their valuables secret.  That’s not to say DeLucia is to blame, it’s a miserable situation all around.

    I’m curious what the police report says about point of entry.  If no windows were broken or opened from outside, then someone with a master key entered the room.  The hotel said a housekeeper’s key had been used, was it stolen?  There’s a serious lack of information for me to leave the hotel blameless in this situation.

    1.  Maybe someone with an extra housekeeping key.  I don’t know how it works… Does each Housekeeper have a key that is coded for them only?   

  3. Wow. Traveler’s worst nightmare. While I feel for the OP, I don’t think I’d leave anymore than than 1K worth in the room safe. Would the hotel’s own safe have been an option? That’s such a huge amount to lose. I think comping 50% of the room would be the most I’d expect as a goodwill gesture, otherwise, they’re admitting culpability.

    If I were the manager, I’d have left off “Despite, I do hope that you will chose to stay at the Royal Hotel again or at any other Radisson Blu hotel.” Sometimes they can’t help themselves, even though it the comment seems wildly inappropriate.

  4. I think it’s irrelevant how much his valuables are worth and whether or not it’s thought, “he can afford the loss.”  Let’s say he only had his passport and credit cards in the safe.  There is a cost incurred in replacing those items.  A hotel is under no obligation to offer a safe. However, if it does, they are offering a service (which they advertised on their site) as a selling point.  There is a reasonable expectation that the safe is “safe.”  If that safe isn’t safe, then the hotel should be held responsible.  They mention his “insurance.”  Well isn’t the hotel insured for these sorts of things.  I think the hotels response is a major fail.

    1.  Interesting thought. Is Radisson one of those hotels that charges for the “privilege” of a safe? Because I’m pretty shocked the guest wasn’t credited any portion of his room, which I assume would include the charge for a safe.

      While I don’t blame Radisson for not eating 45K, they’ve fumbled in their response.  People may turn a blind eye to complaints of service, but complaints of theft where Radisson won’t even pretend to support or protect their guests? Very disappointing.

  5. I’m concerned about the hotel’s cop-out of responsibility. The room key history shows that only the guests and a housekeeper accessed the room, but the police report says no hotel involvement. If the housekeeper is cleaning the room and leaves the door open while he/she is not in the room, how is that not at least somewhat on their shoulders?  If anything, that’s a little bit of negligence.

    Like others have said, I wouldn’t dream of traveling with that kind of personal property value, especially not on my way to a cruise.

    1.  I’m sure that like with most any lock, there’s a way to get it open without the key if you have the tools and the knowledge.

      1. Absolutely! UTube is a treasure trove of info on this. A master combination that hasn’t been changed from the default setting, or changed to a simple “1234” is a sure way to beat the “safe” safe. Of course, when the whole safe goes missing, that’s another story…

  6. If his insurance is only going to cover a small portion of the loss, he should take that hard-earned lesson to heart and purchase more insurance.  Yes, valuable item insurance is expensive, but it’s expensive because of the claims rate.  The hotel was never going to cover the whole loss, especially if innkeeper laws there are similar to the worthless ones here.

    Also, how safe really are those little room safes?  I imagine there’s a “backdoor” to get in them in case the traveler loses whatever it is that opens the safe.  (Credit card, PIN, whatever…)  Not that that would have made a difference in this case.

    Most hotels do not have video cameras carpeting the facility.  It’s a lot of effort and expense for relatively little payback.

    1. Twice I had hotel rooms where the safe was locked when I first arrived.  I called the front desk in both cases.  In one case they had to send someone up from maintenance who had to un-bolt the safe from the cabinet it was in, which did not look like an easy task.  Then they had to use a master key in the back of the safe to reset the digital panel.  In the other case, they sent up someone from housekeeping who entered a code that overrode whatever the previous guest had entered, and then it opened.  In both cases the safes were empty.  I always assumed they were safe, but the hotel where housekeeping could open it with a code gave me my doubts.

    2. Agreed – and after all, who can PROVE there was actually a $45K loss?  Which is why the liability to hotels is usually so low in these cases.

  7. I voted yes.  I could not agree more with:

    …if a hotel is going to put a “safe” in a room, shouldn’t it stand behind it? I mean, what’s the point of having a safe if someone can waltz right into your hotel room and take the darned thing?

    What baffles me is why in the world would anyone have $45,000 worth of watches with them?  Were they planning to open a jewelry store on their cruise?  That just seems really fishy.  Perhaps a money grab?
    I for one always put my wallet and passport in the room safe, perhaps I need to re-think that.   

    1.  $45K in watches is not absurd. I have two Tag Hauer watches, each worth ~$3K each.  If I were to bring them with me on a trip, that’s $6K.  Now, what if I had two or 3 Rolex watches?

      While I sympathize with the OP, I believe another poster said this as well… if you have the money to have $45K in watches, then you will have the money to insure them and/or replace them.

      1. The $45,000 in watches is not what’s absurd; the fact that someone is bringing them on a cruise is what I find absurd.  And that there are multiple watches! Rolexes are pricy; some of the solid gold jewel encrusted ones are $10K to $15K.  I would understand bringing one watch and wearing it, even a nice watch.  But bringing several Rolexes or other expensive watches with you, that’s just nuts!
        If it were me, I would never bring more than one watch to wear, and I would never bring one that was ridiculously expensive or showy enough that it would attract attention.  If my watch was over $1,000, I would leave it at home in a safe place.

          1. Ha! That’s actually where I got mine! Under a floor board in the back of some shop on Canal street. $20 (it was a while ago) and from a foot or so away no one can tell the difference. I only wear it as a joke. I don’t want to attract the wrong type of attention.

          2. I got mine in the 90s and it still runs and keeps time. I wound it today after reading this story and it’s been running all day.

  8. I voted No only because I think this is beyond the requirements of a travel ombudsman. Even in Europe where he’s going to have a “loser pays” legal system, he needs to retain a lawyer.

  9. I’m having trouble with the idea that the hotel would not have had cameras on the floors.  I just can’t see Carlson letting that go – that’s a liability suit waiting to happen. 

    If the lock readout didn’t come up with anything, it’s possible that either someone really knew what they were doing – or the OP left his door ajar, not realizing that it had not closed all the way.  The other scenario is whether or not a staff key was used to open the door… that’s when a manager or MOD should have been paying attention to the times the lock was accessed.

    1.  Plenty of hotels do not install cameras at every elevator and stairwell exit.  They are quite expensive to install and maintain to obtain complete coverage of every floor.  Failure to install such cameras would not normally be considered outside the “reasonable and prudent” standard that is the threshold for liability.

  10. No. First, he was an idiot for traveling with $45K of valuables on a cruise.  Second, most (if not all) hotels limit their liability because those safes are not safe at all. When traveling with that much loot, he should have been smart enough to utilize the HOTEL safe and not the strong box in his room.

    Unfortunate for sure, but this is an issue that needs to be straightened out between the OP and the insurance companies, not an ombudsman.

    1. he should have been smart enough to utilize the HOTEL safe and not the strong box in his room

      You and @RITom:disqus and @BobChi:disqus are all saying this, but I have trouble seeing the logic behind this advice.

      Assuming this hotel even maintains a safe at the front desk, how much compensation would you expect if the watches were lost from a front desk safe?

      How much smarter would it be to go through the production of removing or displaying the expensive watches at the front desk — at least in front of the hotel agents, if not other prying eyes?

      1. Well, if they had disappeared out of the hotel safe, he’d have a receipt and proof positive the items were there, which he utterly lacks now.  Not sure of laws over there, but certainly here they’d be held to a higher standard of care by accepting the valuables, as well, thus they’d be stuck for the entire amount of the loss.

        1. In my (limited) experiences with front desk safes, I don’t recall contents ever being inventoried in much (if any) detail.

          I imagine insisting on a thorough inventory, complete with watch model types or serial numbers, might attract unwanted attention.  Even if  the hotel cooperates and you don’t lose your valuables from the safe, you could become a target as soon as you leave with them.

          I agree that the easiest solution is not to carry valuables which you can’t afford to lose (I won’t even say leave them at home because you could lose them in your hometown too).

          1. I’m no expert on them either, but if you can’t check a coat without getting a receipt, it’d be crazy to blindly accept something and leave the door open to be accused of stealing.

            And it wouldn’t take much of an inventory to beat what exists right now, which is zero inventory.  I have doubts if the guy lost anything of value, let alone $45K worth. If he’s trying to get his property insurance to pay for his loss, a third party acknowledgement that he’d checked some items would certainly be more helpful than just his word that they were stolen.

          2. Whether it’s a coat or a laptop, all I recall getting in most cases is a copy of a ticket stub with pseudo-random letters and numbers on it.

            I have to rely 100% on the mistake-free diligence and honesty of everyone with access to the storage area.  If they give me back the wrong item, it would be tough for me to prove.

          3. You’d have proof you gave them something, whereas it’s just this guy’s word he had anything in the room safe.  And the list of people with access to the hotel safe would have to be shorter than the amount of people who could sneak into a room. (Odds are it’s video monitored most places.)

          4. They can give him back “something” and the OP would still suffer a 44+K loss.

            BTW the fact that someone went through the risk and trouble of removing the entire safe is pretty suggestive that someone thought it probably contained something worth their troubles…

          5. But are the odds as high of that happening as of getting your room safe robbed?  No, because you’d need the management of the hotel involved for that to happen.
            Sure it’s POSSIBLE to be robbed regardless, but it’s undeniable the main hotel safe is a more secure way to go for a number or reasons.

      2.  At least in the states, innkeeper liability laws usually specifically call for greater liability for items taken from the front desk safe vs. the room.

        A safe, or set of safe deposit boxes, is pretty standard at most hotels.

      3.  I can’t speak specifically regarding Danish innkeepers law, but in general, the law does not require a merchant to take on an unknown risk that is not reasonably foreseeable.  Its up to the customer to inform the merchant of the unforeseeable risk so that the merchant can decline, take special precautions, or charge extra money.

        For example, if you wish to ship something via FedEx that’s fragile or valuable, you must declare it otherwise your coverage is very limited.

        In this case, presumably the hotel safe is substantially more secure than the little safes in the guest rooms.  The hotel would have been well within its rights to insist that the OP store the goods in the hotel safe not the room safe.

  11. Room Safes are usually bolted to the floor or the wall.  Sometimes there are warnings that the facility is not liable for belongings left in the safe and it’s at your own risk.  There’s also a warning that the combination shouldn’t be common sequential numbers.  The fingers points that someone had access to the room.  Was other belongings taken?  It would be more prudent if you left your valuables at the front desk safe instead, if any.

  12. This sounds like a drawn-out legal battle to me, unless he’s willing to claim the loss on his insurance and let them handle it with the hotel. I vote to withhold assistance based on what you now know.

  13. It is not reasonable to put $45,000 worth of items in a hotel’s room safe, and therefore not reasonable to expect a hotel to cover it.

    It is unfortunate that the hotel safe was ripped off the wall.  I wonder how someone would know to steal that particular safe from that particular room at that particular time.   Were other safes stolen in the hotel?

    If you have a lot of money, etc,  you are supposed to use the safe at the front desk, not the in room one.

    I’m sorry for their loss, but really…don’t carry that much stuff with you.

    1. Perhaps the OP was flaunting his expensive watches and asked really loudly at the front desk if there was a room safe where he could store is $45,000 in watches.  It would be rally off if it was just the OPs safe that got taken unless he was doing something to draw attention to himself.

    1. Nancy… I’d agree that if Mr. DeLucia has retained an attorney Chris shouldn’t get involved, but the Bucharest attorney mentioned in the body of the story was just a reader giving his thoughts. Mr. DeLucia… I think you’ll find that you’re out of luck if you expect remuneration for items that the hotel did NOT see you put in the safe, but definitely talk to an attorney. Chris… Mr. DeLucia should be comped for the room and maybe a few kroner for his trouble, but anything beyond that is on him. 

  14. Hotel Safes are nuisance protection – just stopping crimes of opportunity. So I agree with others the OP should have been smarter with their valuables. 

    That being said, THE ENTIRE SAFE WAS TAKEN!!! The only way that could have happened was through gross incompetency or complicity of the hotel. You would need power tools and time. For a room to be compromised for that long is a sign that the hotel is not even minimally secure.

    1.  You don’t need power tools, special expertise, or much time to rip a safe out.  If you aren’t concerned with making a mess, a long prybar, a rubber mallet, wooden wedge and one or two minutes will do the trick.  If the wall behind the safe is cinderblock, the securing bolts will pull right out.  (Poured concrete, or wood, for that matter, would be more difficult, but still doable.)

      All the thief had to do was get into the room, and I’m sure hacking a hotel lock is not an insurmountable obstacle.

  15. Mr. DeLucia has several problems, none of which Chris Elliott nor Radisson can help him with.  “His insurance will only cover a small part of the loss” is what I’m focusing on.

    I’ve read through my homeowner’s insurance policy AND the travel insurance policy that I’ve taken out for an upcoming trip.  Travel insurance is very, very limited for electronics, jewelry and the like.  So, no relief there.  Homeowner’s insurance is also very limited – some policies offer $5000 total, with no more than $500 per item, and claims must be substantiated by appraisals, receipts etc.  Very valuable items must be listed and insured separately from the blanket limits available in the policy.  It varies from company to company and policy to policy.

    So, a lesson for others, although it won’t help Mr. DeLucia now:  read through your own insurance policy to see what the limits are on your jewelry, accessories and the like.  Contact your insurance agent if you can’t figure out the language; that IS why they receive a commission.

    I *did* vote to mediate, but not for Radisson to make good on the theft.  Others have pointed out the problems with limited liability, proof of what was actually in the safe, etc.  However, since the entire SAFE was missing, Radisson really ought to show the sincerity of its apology by comping or discounting Mr. DeLucia’s room.

  16. Depending on the watch (e.g. an expensive Rolex, Piaget, Tag Heur, etc) $45,000 might only represent a watch or two.  Expecting the hotel to cover  such a loss out of a strongbox (call it what it is) is unreasonable, the safe at the front desk is the wise place to leave such valuables.  As far as I am concerned this is a situation where the guest should have sufficient insurance to cover such valuables.

    My concern is on a different level . . . the safety and security of the room period!  As a guest I expect my room will be safe and secure for *me* . . . the fact we have someone entering and taking the whole strongbox has me wondering how safe the hotel is for the guests.

  17. $45K in valuables? Was there some type of unbelievable camera and satellite phone to use on the cruise… or was this jewelry? I *completely* agree that they should have left valuables at home.

    That being said… I would assume that I could store my passport in my hotel safe, and that the safe would be bolted very securely to where it was placed.  I was once in a hotel lobby in Naples waiting to check in when a man came behind me with a knife, slashed the strap of my bag that was over and across my body and ran… and my passport was in that bag. I’ve experienced having to get a new passport overseas… it isn’t fun. The hotel claimed *no* responsibility, but did offer us two free nights stay.

    I said yes on the poll.  I do believe that the hotel should have at least offered a voucher as an act of goodwill.

    1. What an awful thing to have happen! Maybe there is something to learn from your terrible misfortune. I will look into those reinforced bags…and I now understand and agree that the hotel should have offered the OP something for their loss.

      1. I have one of those reinforced bags, I bought it on amazon, and it is awesome. It has steel cabling in the shoulder strap and wire mesh inside the body to prevent slashing and stealing the contents. The zippers have a clip on them which secure the pulls from being opened without using two hands. The strap also has a toggle clip that can be undone and wrapped around the arm of a chair or anywhere that prevents a quick snatch and grab thief as well. 

        I will not travel without it now. 

  18. You read time & again don’t travel with lots of jewelry! You walk around flashing your “bling” & people notice, the wrong people.
    I cannot believe the hotel does not have cameras.
    Take the loss up with your insurance company, & see if you can get the hotel to cover your deductible.
    Have the police checked the whereabouts of the housekeeping staff? 

  19. I voted to mediate. While I don’t know why people travel with large amounts of jewelry, this is obviously the fault of the hotel. Either the housekeeper took it or propped the door open and someone else took it.

    Once again…
    If you’re going on a cruise, leave the valuables at home. Really, who are you trying to impress? Some people you’ll never see again in your life as you stalk around the midnight buffet?!?!?

  20. I think he deserves a bit more than an apology.  I, however, do not know how much he should receive because his insurance *should* cover some of the valuables in the safe.  I for one, would like to know how he is going to prove up the $45,000 of valuables.  I imagine this may be part of the reason the hotel has denied his claim.  Why was he under-insured?  I for one, do not travel with expensive belongings that are not insured. because things happen on trips.  You take a ring off, the chain to the necklace brakes, the earring back falls off, etc.  Too much happens to let that go to chance. 

    The hotel does owe him something, but I think the OP should maybe learn a lesson from traveling with that much in uninsured or under-insured valuables.  The hotel should have at least comped his stay and offered to pay for what he could prove up. 

  21. This is nuts. 

    Confusing the issue here is the fact that the OP says he lost $45K worth of valuables.  But for the sake of sorting out the legal argument, replace the 2nd sentence of the paragraph starting “so what was in the safe?” with “$100 and his passport, and that’s it.”

    We need to know more about this “police report [that] does not suggest any trace of the hotel’s involvement.”  WTF does THAT mean?  A police report merely describes the evidence: the witnesses’ claims as to what happened, the state of the crime scene as found by the police–that’s it!  It doesn’t place blame; that’s not its purpose!  So by definition, a police report SHOULD NOT “suggest any trace of the hotel’s involvement.”

    Nobody is denying that the safe was ripped out of the hotel room.  The FACTS, as apparently acknowledged by the hotel, indicate that either the OP or the housekeeper is to blame.  Period! 

    In short, this sounds like a super-pathetic attempt by the hotel to CYA.  Did they have any notice posted that guests “use the hotel safe at their own risk,” or limiting their guarantee of the items that guests put inside the safe to a low monetary amount?  Doesn’t sound like it! and inventing such rules after the fact, uh, doesn’t count.

    It’s possible that the hotel suspects the OP is padding his claim. If so, they should “simply” request evidence that the OP did indeed own the items he claims were in the safe–much like insurance companies do to try to avoid fraud. 

    The OP has to pursue this right up the chain, justice demands it!  The high monetary value of his possessions is a red herring that’s confusing a lot of commenters here.  If the hotel doesn’t want to guarantee guests’ items in their hotel safes, it shouldn’t have safes in the rooms.

  22. I voted NO.   This is for travel problems not dumb lawsuit problems.
    Most homeowner’s insurance policies will only cover uninsured jewelry up to $1,000 per incident. Thus the insured must obtain a rider for anything above this amount.
    To bring $45,000 worth of uninsured jewelry with you on holiday is not logical, then to place it in a small box in your hotel room with your passport, and then wait to the day you leave the country to check to obtain it is stupid!
    This is a safe in a hotel, NOT a bank!  Hotels that I have seen with safes tell you to leave you valuables with the front desk, not in your room.  I have always learned to take your passport with you at all times, under your shirt.

  23. Horrible story…if it is true.  As a general rule of thumb, I believe the only two groups who travel with $45K worth of valuables are liars and fools.  Maybe he’s honest and in the latter group, but I’m getting the strong odor of fish.  Stealing an entire safe is very brazen; not like you can just slip one of those in your pocket and be on your way. The thief must have known what was in there. Yet, he doesn’t say a word about even being mildly suspicious of anybody?  

    If I could ask the OP one question, it would be what fancy watch was spared from being stolen by his wearing it.  If the answer was “he lost them all” I’d call balderdash on the whole thing. Because people with a penchant for fancy watches LOVE wearing them. Small chance he’d leave the room without one on.

  24. I did not vote either way because…

    Why in God’s name did they take those $$$ items?

    Have they never read your site or the news, or have any common sense at all, or did they want to play up as the Ugly Americans on the cruise?

    On the other hand, an entire safe was stolen from the room and I think the hotel does have some responsibility for that.

    QUESTION – sorry to be out of the loop on this, but what does OP stand for, please?

    1.  Travel in Europe isn’t always as convoluted as it is here. Travel between countries in Europe can be (although it’s not always) as simple as traveling between states in the U.S.

      1. I understand that and have traveled by car between countries in Europe. It is like crossing state borders here. But, cruise ships are notorious for requiring every single passenger to have their passport to get on a ship. His cruise was starting in Copenhagen. He doesn’t mention anywhere having had a problem boarding the cruise.

  25. Every person that I have heard about lost 10 carats of diamonds and 3 Rolex watches. There is a disclaimer on everone of the 100’s of hotels that I have inspected stating their responsability for in-room safes. Most people just sign in. Tough luck. Now a great travel agent once taught me, my father of course that:
    1) If you cannot afford to lose it don’t take it with you! Your asking for problems.
    2) Never ever ever let the passport out of you hands unless it is in the hotel lock box. They are valuable.
    3) If they were the only ones robbed, then were they probably flashing thier presumed wealth about, and the robber saw it. That just happened to one of my clients in the D.R.
    4) If you are going to take it, make sure that each piece is appraised and insured.
    BTW, I was robbed in 1987 in Miami Beach. I did lose a 2 carat Tanzanite ring, passports, travelers checks, so I do understand their loss.

  26. People use to say “Men never listen” but  “Women never listen when coming to travel with valuable”. Women travel with 50K and more jewelries are not uncommon. My sister did, but they are specifically insured and travel clause must specified in the home insurance so you can travel with vanity and a peace mind. Wait! My sister put 4 PIN with her 10 credit cards in her purse which was stolen in front of Sofitel in Marseilles by a thief posing as the Hotel doorman. But she was lucky because the Police arrest the thieves 3 hours later when they tried the combination of 4 PIN with the 10 credit cards to withdraw money. The funny thing is about the arrest, the police can arrest only if they success to withdraw the money. The undercover policemen laughed a lot later when they said they were very stressed when the thief cannot success to match the 10 cards with the 4 PIN. Finally, after 10 minutes they succeed to match one card and withdrew the money and got arrested. They don’t know the guy just behind is the police.

    Some people even put Diamond Tiara in checked luggage–abc-news-topstories.html

    1. The thieves waited too long to use the cards! What a great story – glad your sister got her things back and has a great story in the end.

      1. She got everything back  (Passport and jewelries too but not at 50K…) except some hundred Euros… The irony is if she hadn’t left the PINs with the credit cards, the thief would stay home and she couldn’t retrieve the Passport and jewelries, and, the thiefs not arrested. When we tell the story to the local Marseillais, they don’t believe their Police was so efficient. My sister is just lucky.
        My point is some men expect women put their jewelries in the safe at home or at the bank, but the logic of my mother, aunts and sisters is jewelries are bought to wear not to put in the safe. Just having good home insurance (you pay a little extra for the jewelries) and you can wear it and have a peace of mind.

        1. Very ironic!  Maybe worth putting a card with a false PIN number just in case…  And I agree with your female relatives – if you can’t wear your jewelry, why have it?  Insure it and be smart about where and how you wear it.

  27. When I travel, I wear/pack good-quality costume jewelry. Never the good stuff. My expensive things I wear 24/7. I am suspicious of this story to a degree. I agree with Michelle C’s questions. There is a lot about this case we just do not know….

  28. I agree with all who say he should have had more insurance, should have left the items in the hotel safe, should have done several things differently. I also agree that the hotel should take more responsibility. It’s obvious the safe itself was stolen, and that should not happen. They really should comp him the room as a goodwill gesture, and that’s something Chris could mediate further.  A big problem in doing anything else is that the OP probably has no actual proof he ever placed any of those valuable items in the room safe in the first place. When you leave items in the hotel’s safe, you get a receipt that says what you left. Here it could be anything.

  29. Seriously, who travels with $45,000 of valuables?  Period, end of story.  Sounds like someone who has more money than brains.  Hotel safes are about as secure as a shoebox with an elastic band around it.  Why would you even ask if you should mediate the case?!?

  30. What an absolutely awful story!  I’m the person Chris helped last year when my bag was stolen off the Hotel Andra luggage cart, so I really feel for this man.  He should have insured his jewelry properly with his homeowners insurance.  However, if the hotel offers a safe, it’s making a representation that the guest can reasonably rely on the safe to store valuables.  He used that safe just as he was supposed to.  It seems to have been stolen because the hotel had lax security, a dishonest employee, or a maid who did not latch the door.

  31. Most experienced travelers know you never try to look rich in a foreign country for many reasons, unless you have accompanying security personnel.  First, you become an easy mark.  Perhaps these watches were being worn upon check-in?  Maybe they were seen with them?  Second, violent crime accompanies Rolex watch theft.  Peoples hands have been chopped off.  It goes on and on.

    Yes, if you travel with such baubles, then you should be well insured.  Why would you trust a room safe when the hotel usually has its own safety deposit boxes in a vault which are far more secure?

    The common sense questions go on and on.  A hotel safe usually carries its disclaimers on the safe or nearby.  Most of the time it says the hotel is responsible for zilch.  Nada.  

    Who itemized the items going into the safe?  What if I said I put $100,000 Euros in a safe and then claimed it was stolen?  That is one good reason the customer’s insurance company bears the brunt of the loss.  And if the customer’s policy does not cover jewelry (such as a watch in gold case encrusted with diamonds) because they were not on an itemized rider (common requirement), then why should the hotel?

    Sorry, none of this makes sense.  Hotels are not banks.  Put your $45K of items in a bank next time, not in a flimsy closet safe.

    1. Why would you trust a room safe when the hotel usually has its own safety deposit boxes in a vault which are far more secure?

      I agree with the rest of your post, but I have to question this piece of second-guessing, as I have elsewhere.

      How do you store the watches in the hotel’s safety deposit boxes (if this hotel even has these) without being seen with the watches?

      Who itemizes and appraises watches placed in the hotel’s safety deposit boxes?  What additional compensation can someone expect if such valuables are lost from the hotel’s vault?

      1. Just like in a bank, you put your valuables into an envelope privately and then into the box inside the vault.  Why use the vault, which is common in many hotels?   A vault is inherently more secure.  While no one inventories the contents, neither is a vault easily ripped off a wall. A vault is not left unattended like a hotel room, as it usually is in an closed-off area adjacent to the front desk.

        I do not know if the Radisson Blu has a vault, but if I were carrying $45K of jewelry/watches, I would certainly find out beforehand.

        I am not just “second-guessing” these guests, but trying to figure out the logic of their actions or whom they consulted before they took $45K of easily transferable assets to a foreign country.  Some of these writers to Chris have worn out all possible avenues of reconciliation with the business entity for a reason.  Perhaps, they themselves failed initially to exercise good judgment, not the business.  

        Whether right or wrong, every complainer should get an initial dose of respect in the form of a prompt response from the business.  

        1. If the OP handed an envelope with $45k worth of valuables to a hotel employee to place in the hotel’s vault — and couldn’t get the contents back later (no brute force vault attack necessary) — I suspect commenters would be ridiculing him even moreso for THAT choice.

          BTW, there are rare but occasional news stories where even banks experience safe deposit box thefts.  If you read a typical safe deposit box rental agreement, those losses generally aren’t covered either.  At least with a box rental from a bank, the customer typically keeps one of the deadbolt keys and generally has completely private access to the box in a secure area.

          1. “Just like in a bank, you put your valuables into an envelope privately and then into the box inside the vault. ”

            Sentence is clear; the owner puts the valuables into the envelope and into the vault box.  Process I have always used.  Assets never touched by hotel employee.  Assets not available to maids, maintenance, bellhops, room service or other employees.  

            Of course, there is nothing foolproof.  All we try to do is minimize our risks and maximize our opportunities.  This traveler, probably unwittingly, took a series of risks and then felt the hotel should be responsible.

          2. What hotel has a process where assets never touch an employee’s hands?  I’ve never seen that.

            Are you suggesting each guest gets their own locked compartment?  If not, what prevents you from taking another guest’s “envelope?”

    2. It used to be standard procedure to itemize valuables into the hotel vault, but so many hotels these days offer the room safe as a mandatory alternative. You could make the case that this customer should have used the vault if it were an option – but was it?

  32. I don’t understand why he had so much in valuable items with him, and I think that that was poor planning, but I also think that’s besides the point.  The point is that it should have been adequately protected from theft in the safe, nobody should have been able to take the safe, and the hotel should not just shrug and say “Sorry.”  No matter what was in the safe or how valuable it was, that was NOT an appropriate response from the business who should have protected it.

  33. I’m having a hard time with this story as well especially given that I have left my rings in a hotel safe before and I thoroughly expected them to be there when I came back. But, those same rings are insured on a separate rider policy if only because they are worth more than the $1000 standard jewelry limit. I can’t for the life of me understand why someone wouldn’t insure that much in valuables all the time but especially if you are taking them with you on a trip. And, why would someone go to the trouble of taking only one entire safe unless they knew that particular safe was worth the effort? Were any other safes broken into around the same time frame? Does the hotel have a history of such thefts? Just fishy all the way around.

  34. Chris, wondering if the OP shared anything with you regarding his property insurance claim?  (Surely, he had this stuff insured, right?) If it were me I’d be making sure that claim moves smoothly along and let my insurance company go after the hotel (well, the hotel’s insurance company).  And if there was no insurance, it’d be a huge red flag regarding his whole story, imo.

  35.  If it is important enough, you have responsibility to keep it safe. I guarantee you that there is a statement somewhere that says use the safe at your own risk! What if you put your laptop in there and it had GB of company secrets? Do you expect the hotel to cover any loss of private information? Your company wouldn’t go after the hotel, they would lay you off.

  36. Wow, anyone who can afford that much in a watch does not need an advocate. They need a lesson in humility. That will feed a lot of people in Africa.

    1. What they really need at the moment is property insurance!  I find it a bit odd that his property insurance claim isn’t mentioned in the letter.  Why is he spinning his wheels with the hotel when he could just let his insurance company worry about that?  Makes me wonder if the “missing valuables” weren’t insured.  Hmm…

  37. We were in Panama a few months ago and wanted a safe in our Westin room just for passports.  Finally a member of the hotel staff (small, female) walked in carrying our new safe!  I reasoned that if she could carry it in, anyone could carry it out so we took our passports with us and ignored the unsafe safe.  Caveat emptor!  If it doesn’t look safe, it’s not a safe.  But, as other readers have said, who leaves such huge amounts of money in a hotel safe?????  And how does one go about proving the value?  Answer is:  one doesn’t and the hotel is surely not going to turn over that amount of money without proof of culpability, and that the valuables were there in the first place.  Don’t intervene Chris.

  38. Radisson Blu is a very high-end boutique chain. I paid $500 for one night at the Zurich Kloten location last year. This sort of loss should definitely be covered.

    1. At $500 a night it would take them 90 nights to earn back the $45,000.  Nobody, no matter how high end, is going to pay a claim like that based on somebody’s word.  

    2. The problem is that this wasn’t just a “mysterious disappearance,” as the insurance adjusters term it. A safe was bodily ripped out of the wall. This makes a lot of noise and, at a property like this, would take special equipment. Clearly there was an inside security problem. I wouldn’t accept that casual brushoff.

  39. Some hotels charge a fee for the use of a room safe. If the hotel does so, I believe that they have at least some liability for valuables left in the safe. If  a fee is charged, the hotel is implying that valuables left in the safe will be protected. Nobody would rent a car without an engine. Therefore why would anyone rent a hotel safe if it didn’t protect valuables. It will be interesting to find out if a safe rental fee was charged by the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel?

  40. If passport was in the safe were they able to go on the cruise? Did they obtain replacement travel documents?

  41. OK- Unless the guy is a jeweler, I can not understand the massive amount of items in his safe.  If he is- then why would he not put it in the hotel safe with a signed receipt?
    So- lets think of an ordinary person- my safe is gone and with it are my passports, flight tickets, and some cash.  Would I be calling the police?  YES! Would I expect compensation?  YES!  If the safe is not safe- ie tied to the substructure of the building- then do not call it a safe.  Call it a box. Let me know there is a real safe in the hotel corporate area which I can sign my stuff in and out of.
    I would want the cost and expense of my new passports, the cost of reprinting my airlines stuff, and my cash + whatever I lost of the day I had to do all this paper work.  OK_ so maybe $300? cash not voucher for a future stay in a hotel I will not return to.

  42. I’m assuming this is a “high class” hotel.  So, seriously someone walked out the front door, past other guest and desk and potentially security personnel carrying a safe and nobody noticed? I suppose it could have been ditched in the stairwell or something but the OP didn’t indicate that the safe had been found empty or anything. Perhaps the housekeeper has a “friend” she alerts to well heeled guestrooms… Who knows.  And like everyone else, I am skeptical of the $45K price tag.  The ONLY expensife jewelry I take on vacation is my wedding set and they’d have to pry those from my dead cold hands to get them! Now, $4500 I could easily see with cash, traveler’s checks and a nice watch or two but… pffft Valuable lesson learned about conspicuous consumption I guess.  The fact that the “perp’ took the whole safe indicated they KNEW something really good was in there and wanted the time to get at it…The OP and his wife were prolly those who stand at the bell desk saying “Be careful I have thousands of dollars of expensive things in that bag; don’t drop it” etc… I feel sorry for their loss (whatever the TRUE extent of it is) but there’s definitely blame to go around here somewhere…

  43. @Joe_D_Messina:disqus [Re: front-desk safes]
    But are the odds as high of that happening as of getting your room safe robbed?  No, because you’d need the management of the hotel involved for that to happen.  

    Yes, I suspect the odds are higher (IMO)!   Management “involvement” is not even necessary.  It just takes one employee, possibly making a human error (and a dishonest fellow guest who doesn’t point out the error).

    How common is it for a locked room safe to vanish from a hotel?  (“We were told this had never happened in the hotel before”)

    You also need to factor in the total risk to the valuables: using the front desk’s secure storage could attract attention that makes you more of a target later.

    1. Michael

      I must respectfully disagree with you.  A room safe is 1) small, 2) accessible by numerous unobserved people including housekeeping, valet, bellmen, security, minibar checker, etc.

      A hotel safe is almost certainly has multiple levels of redundancy to protect the hotel. Some might be 1) constant video surveillance; 2) electronic locks to limit and log access; 3) procedures preventing a single employee from accessing the safe, 4) paperwork of the existence of a checked item, and other unknown procedures.

      That’s why every hotel, travel guide, etc. advocates the use of the hotel safe for valuable items, and the room safe for small crap.

      1. I did a little checking.  Caveat: Laws in this area are state dependent and I only checked US Law

        If you place your valuables in the room safe, the innkeepers law limits the hotels liability to around 1K in most states.

        Had the OP placed his valuables with a hotel employee for placing in the hotel safe, the hotel would be liable for the entire amount of the loss without limit.

        Given the relative disparity between the liability amounts, its a no-brainer that the hotel has substantially greater incentive to ensure the security of items in its vault as opposed to a room safe.  Further, the hotel doesn’t even have the defense that the items were non-existent if you get an inventory.

        1. Maybe I haven’t been to enough high-end hotels or stored valuable enough possessions, but the relatively few times I’ve stored items I don’t believe they were inventoried.  Generally, all I received was a ticket stub (which, like a baggage check sticker,  was supposed to match a tag attached to my item(s)).  

          I found this link on hotel liabilities by state:

          What would be the basis for the innkeeper to be  “liable for the entire amount of the loss without limit”? 

          Skimming through  several states (alphabetically up to Georgia) it seems that they strictly limit liability to a modest dollar amount (as you say) — unless the innkeeper is negligent or in some states unless the innkeeper specifically agrees to a contract that reads otherwise (even though the innkeeper is under no obligation to enter into such a contract as far as I can tell).  

          Am I misreading something?

          1. You have it partially correct.

            Skimming the statutes, if the innkeeper is told that the articles are worth so and so, he is given the option to decline the valuables.  Acceptance will often waive the limits. (very short analysis on my part, its 3am)

            The statutes seem to contemplate the situation where the innkeeper was not told that the items were high value.

  44. I think this was a setup or inside job so to speak.  Someone knew what was in the safe somehow. No reason to risk taking a safe with nothing in it.
    Now if the jewelery was not under a separate policy, then only a homeowners or travel insurance might pay and probably limit of $1000 each. One has to have pictures to prove they had the jewelery or a letter from who they bought the jewels from stating their value.

    Just like I was the mark for the theft of a Rolex.  It was a beautiful setup and well done by the thief.

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