Weird Things People Try Stealing From Hotel Rooms

A roll of toilet paper, a few extra packets of instant coffee, a bottle of travel-sized shampoo — most people have swiped a small item here or there during a hotel stay. And as it turns out, packing away a few freebies before check-out isn't always a bad thing. Some items, such as lotion and disposable slippers, are totally part of what you can take from your hotel room, and most accommodations don't reuse these goods over multiple stays. In other words, you might as well snag them, or the housekeepers will throw them in the trash.

If sticky-fingered guests steal more than just basic toiletries and paper goods, though, they might wind up with a hefty charge added to their bill. However, that doesn't stop some from trying. Case in point: a stolen piano in Italy. According to a 2023 study of hotel theft by Wellness Heaven, three men in overalls waltzed into a hotel in the European country and made off with the grand piano from its lobby. Surprisingly, that isn't the strangest act of larceny in a hotel.

Bathroom fixtures

When you think of a cozy hotel bathroom, you might imagine a big soaking tub or a luxurious rain-style showerhead. However, no matter how much you enjoy a well-designed hotel bathroom, you probably wouldn't try to take it home. The same can't be said for some cunning hotel guests. According to the Wellness Heaven study, one Berlin hotel fell victim to an unusual case of theft after visitors stole a showerhead, a hydromassage shower unit, a toilet seat, and a bathroom sink.

That's not the only time a hotel-goer has snatched bathroom fixtures from their room. In 2016, a couple tried to get away with taking a high-tech toilet seat from the Toyoko Inn in Nagoya, the Japanese city renowned for its incredible culinary vacations. However, the pair was caught red-handed and forced to ship the seat back to the hotel. In another incident, one guest claimed to have taken an entire bathtub from a hotel. The crime came to light when the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. ran an amnesty program asking previous guests to return stolen items. Keith McClinsey, the hotel's sales director, revealed to The New York Times that one person offered up their allegedly stolen bathtub.


Stealing bedding might not seem as bizarre as hijacking toilet seats and bathtubs, but it's still a no-no in most hotels' books. "Hotels do care about [pillows]," clinical professor Bjorn Hanson of the New York University Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism shared with Yahoo! Travel. "If a guest takes pillows, about half the time the hotel will send a letter saying, 'We hope you're enjoying the pillows — here's the invoice.'" Similarly, blankets are off-limits, though some greedy guests snatch them anyway. In fact, Wellness Heaven's study discovered that 18% of hotels had experienced theft of blankets.

The survey also discovered that guests sometimes grab mattresses on their way out the door, with 5-star hotels (which, presumably, have the comfiest and most expensive mattresses) being the most affected. If you're wondering how someone could get away with such obvious theft, a British hotel chain hired private investigators to "steal" mattresses from its rooms without getting caught. The faux thieves were found to be successful in dragging a mattress down a hallway, into an elevator, and out the door within 20 minutes.


Pet-friendly hotel chains can be a lifesaver for travelers who can't bear to leave their animal pals behind. Unfortunately, animals — like a wallet or wad of cash on the nightstand — aren't always safe from hotel thieves. A 2009 survey conducted by The Telegraph, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, revealed that 37% of hotel guests admitted to stealing at least once from their room. 

One account reports that a guest snatched a hotel owner's dog. A similar incident at another hotel involved a pet parrot. According to a Quora user who had worked in the hospitality industry, one family left their parrot in their room while they went sightseeing. When they returned, the parrot was missing and never found again. Not all animals swiped from hotels were alive at the time of the crime. The Hotel du Vin in Birmingham, England, reported a case where an intoxicated guest attempted to steal a taxidermied boar head that had been displayed on a wall. Ultimately, the thief got to keep the hunting trophy after his friends returned and offered to pay for it.


Electronics, from home appliances to smartphones, are one category of products commonly targeted by thieves, according to a 2022 report [PDF] by the National Retail Federation. With that said, these goods aren't always pinched from tech shops and big-box stores. In some cases, swindlers book private hotel rooms to snatch pricey electronics.

In the study by Wellness Heaven, tablet computers were found to have been stolen from nearly one in five hotels. Small appliances such as coffee makers, hair dryers, and phones were also commonly taken by mischievous guests. Even large electronics have been moved out of hotel rooms: Nearly 9% of hotels in the survey reported a stolen TV set, and just over 3% had a mini fridge stolen. Sarah Dandashy, a concierge and the blogger behind Ask A Concierge, also recounted when someone came into her hotel's business center and managed to leave with a computer. The thief entered with an empty suitcase, fit the device in the luggage, and left undetected.

Beach sand

While most items stolen from hotels get snatched from within the accommodations, some thieves target valuables outside the hotel's walls. That happened in Jamaica in 2008 when criminals hauled off an estimated 500 truckloads (valued at $70 million) of sand from a Coral Springs Resort development site. To put it simply, the crooks stole an entire beach from the hotel grounds.

The bizarre case was investigated for years until charges were dropped against five suspects in 2011 after a key witness received death threats for coming forward. The motive behind the crime was thought to be a money-making venture. By stealing sand from one resort, the thieves could resell it to other hotels and lodges in the area, turning a profit from the deed. So next time you visit Jamaica and enjoy lounging around on the sandy beach outside your room, remember that you might be hanging out on — literal — stolen land.