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I was robbed! I think

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/9/2015 at 20:29 admin

From this week's newsletter:

This week brings news of some Singaporean "VIP" bloggers who went public alleging that they'd had around S$1,000 cash stolen from their villa in Bali. The case quickly descended into a matter of he said/she said, with screenshots of SMS messages weakening the bloggers' case somewhat. The truth is, we'll probably never know what really happened.

Nobody likes getting robbed and I've been robbed plenty of times -- pickpockets, snatch and grabs, when I, umm, left my gear in a Mexican cave and went drinking -- but in well over a thousand hotel stays, I've never had anything stolen from my room. Ever. TOUCH WOOD!

A friend of ours did a long spell in PR for a fancy hotel in Bali and they often dealt with guest allegations of theft from rooms. Irate guests would show up at reception saying cash had been lifted from their room, and management response was to ask the guests whether they had recently used a money-changer. The answer was invariably yes. Hotel security would accompany the guests to said moneychanger and the shyster would hand over the missing cash.

Yes, the guests had been robbed -- but not by the hotel staff. Instead, a bodgy money-changer had short changed them and they just hadn't noticed the missing money until later in the day.

While writing this piece I canvassed other travel writers, along with the Travelfish team, and with one exception, nobody had been robbed.

I'm not saying it doesn't happen and that the bloggers necessarily weren't robbed. There was a serial thief doing the rounds in Cambodian hostels earlier this year -- though in that case it it turned out to be another traveller not hotel staff.

What I am suggesting is to be wary of jumping to conclusions about what happened to your missing kit and cash. Hotel staff often have far more to lose than you do and risking their livelihood over a small amount of cash or a camera probably isn't the smartest career move. And from a hotel management point of view, letting well-founded allegations of staff dishonesty slide by is simply madness -- but I guess, stranger things have happened.

If your room has a safe, use it. If it doesn't, ask to store valuables with the front desk -- most reputable hotels will oblige. If stuff does do missing, consider all the possible ways it could have vanished before jumping to a conclusion of hotel theft.

Do you think travellers can be too fast to level the finger of blame when stuff goes missing?

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,875
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Posted by exacto on 28/9/2015 at 23:27

Absolutely. Travel is exciting and fun, but it can also be a little scary and unsettling, particularly if we are in a new place or don't speak the language. It is easy to feel insecure, and think the worst about what is happening around us. This goes for blaming the hotel staff when things go missing when it is much more likely to be a fellow guest or something else entirely. But it could also be thinking the taxi driver ripped you off when he didn't;or like in that thread not too long ago thinking the local travel agent was pulling a scam when his advice on which beach to visit turned out to be correct; or that other thread where the OP asked where was the best place to go in Thailand because he thought everyone would try to rip him off. It seems like a sad part of human nature, but I think people are more likely to throw blame the bigger the economic gap between home and the locals and the greater the cultural difference between home and the place we are visiting.
But MADMAC's brilliant advice from that third other thread about who is to blame applies here too. Order a beer!

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,753
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Posted by jillchu on 28/9/2015 at 23:46

I totally agree about jumping to conclusions. I've only had things taken by hotel staff once during a life blessedly full of travel and that was in my home country the USA. I worked as a hotel cleaner as a young person for several years. We were searched randomly upon leaving and constantly accused by guests of stealing. It always felt so unfair after cleaning people's toilets for not much money to then have to defend ourselves. Even with that experience there have been several times when I thought something was stolen only to realize it was tucked away somewhere, where I'd put it for safe keeping. My husband and I have been traveling for the past 4 1/2 years in South and Southeast Asia and relaxing with a beer before I jump to any conclusions is always the best plan for us.

#3 jillchu has been a member since 18/9/2015. Posts: 1

Posted by appro on 29/9/2015 at 02:41

We were robbed last year in Lamai, Samui. Someone broke into our room while we were out for dinner and ripped the safe from the wall. Eventually it was found in another guest's room, along with three more safes from other rooms. The guy was English. He checked in that day - the young lad on reception failed to get a photocopy of his passport. The manager went nuts when he discovered this, as did the police offer who attended. Apparently a professional (western) gang had hit a number of hotels that week.

He stole our money (only 10,000 baht, but still) a camera, a kindle and our passports! That was the worst part. We had to cut our break short to go back to Bangkok and get temporary replacements. It was such a hassle, and very expensive. Thankfully the thief left our bank cards, otherwise we would have been in deep trouble. The hotel owner was mortified and so very apologetic. They had a security gate, cameras and safes in the rooms, so I'm not sure what else they could have done (apart from the passport error). The young lad on reception made a silly mistake.

The irony, for us, is that we were robbed on a two week holiday. Over the previous few years we've spent about 9 months travelling all over SE Asia without incident. This was the first hotel we stayed in that had a safe!

#4 appro has been a member since 9/5/2009. Posts: 32

Posted by somtam2000 on 29/9/2015 at 06:04 admin

@appro - that is a crazy story! Ripping safes off walls!

#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,875
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Posted by busylizzy on 29/9/2015 at 11:08

Last year I was working at a hotel that had a 16 bed dorm. There were a number incidents were people claimed that something had been stolen from their bag. It's a difficult situation as a hotelier - especially when you know that 9 out of 10 times the person just misplaced the item. I find it irritating to blame hotel staff - they are usually at the bottom of the pay scale and wouldn't jeopardise their jobs. As others said' if something DOES go missing I would first suspect other travellers.

One older lady in a dorm was quite indignant about her situation - a missing kindle that was supposedly at the bottom of her bag. I asked her if she checked ALL her bags thoroughly - hand bag, day pack, backpack. She insisted yes. She blamed staff. She blamed other people in the dorm - and wanted me to search everyone else's bag. Yeah right - upset 15 other people in her dorm when I KNEW if was going to show up in her gear. I didn't do the search - but did ask the other dorm guests if they had seen her Kindle. 2-3 hours later she very sheepishly told me she found it - and the bottom of her pack. Under a book/jacket/whatever...

So there I could have potentially caused a major upset with 15 other guests - NOT a good look for a hotel. I just wish people would take better care of their things. (Now I sound like my mother). I have never had anything stolen in my years of travel - but I never leave anything lying around in my room. All electronics (including cables) are locked up in my backpack when ever I leave the room. Always. The only thing I leave out is dirty laundry - and that never goes missing!

#6 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152
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Posted by rgmskm on 30/9/2015 at 01:07

Travelling since 1968 initially throughout Australia then over time in Europe, USA, Asia, China, Russia and South America across likely more than 250 or so separate trips was only robbed once and that was when I left a laptop bag too long on a seat in the Night Zoo in Singapore. Despite alerting the exits, Zoo security etc it was not located although the modem was detected in use in Australia some two months later. Was my fault entirely - but in all those hundreds of hotel rooms, airplanes, buses, taxis (a camera left in a taxi in Bangkok returned to the hotel by the driver - again my fault), boats etc have never been robbed once.
Lucky - maybe - but it is really incumbent on the traveller to be aware of what might be.

#7 rgmskm has been a member since 29/6/2004. Posts: 2

Posted by Nia on 26/10/2015 at 07:12

It is common sense to take care when youtravel. Yes, travel is fun and exciting but you never know if something isgoing to go wrong. Don't be paranoid, but do take care - don't carry large amountsof cash with you or keep it outside of a safe in your room. Make sure you havetravel insurance that will cover anything that gets stolen. Don't leave camerasor other gadgets lying on a table when you go to pay the bill. You've got tohave common sense - opportunist thieves are looking for an easy target. Take afew simple steps to protect yourself and it won't be you.

#8 Nia has been a member since 25/9/2015. Posts: 5

Posted by anjalik097 on 9/9/2017 at 04:26

Really helped me because in my last trip I was lost my money I didn't have many options that time I am planning a new trip so I think it is better to read something about this. It nice to have such information so that we will aware from next time.

#9 anjalik097 has been a member since 16/8/2017. Posts: 4

Posted by MarkSeaton on 10/9/2017 at 19:14

People, generally speaking, are nice.
:)

#10 MarkSeaton has been a member since 15/8/2017. Posts: 13
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Posted by somtam2000 on 10/9/2017 at 19:22 admin

Yes, that's true people are generally speaking nice. In this week’s newsletter am writing about a long con I was dragged into years ago as a cautionary tale—but do need to balance that with the fact that the vast majority of people you encounter are nice.

#11 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,875
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