Towel thieves targeted in hi-tech clampdown
Hotels are deploying new technology to combat one of the menaces of the hospitality industry – the towel thief.
There’s something utterly delicious about hotel beds… and towels… and robes. They’re so decadently fluffy and epically cozy, we’d totally steal them if we could.
And much of the time, we do. Towels are among the most-stolen items in hotels, The Telegraph reports. We could’ve guessed that.
But we never would’ve guessed that hotels can tell when you’ve stolen a towel (or robe or duvet cover for that matter). It’s all thanks to a tiny, M&M-sized tracking device that thousands of hotels have embedded in their linens — a device that lets them know where their towels, robes and bedsheets are at all times.
The main service they use is Linen Technology Tracking, which provides the chips to some 2,000 hotels around the country, according to its executive VP William Serbin. The company’s initial goal was to let hotels track which linens had made it from the hotel to the cleaners and back again, but the chips have also proven handy for keeping tabs on stolen goods that guests think have slipped out unnoticed.
“One hotel uses the chips to monitor the elevator banks,” Serbin told The Huffington Post. “Any time one of their towels passes through the elevator bay, Housekeeping gets an alert.”
While he says the hotel in question doesn’t charge guests for lifting towels or robes (he can’t say which hotels have his trackers installed, but we’ve found the name of at least one that does), hotels that use Linen Tracking do know precisely how many linens have been stolen each month. The average hotel loses 10 to 20 percent of its linens per month — mostly to wear and tear, Serbin says. Two percent of linens that go missing are stolen, he estimates.
His company’s chips send signals to antennae at the hotel’s entrance or exit, letting owners know if a linen has left the property — they do not tell hoteliers the exact coordinates of a missing towel or robe.
… And for that, hotel thieves everywhere are thankful.
The US company which patented the technology said one hotel in Hawaii which introduced the tags last summer had seen towel theft tumble from 4,000 a month to just 750, saving more than £9,000 a month.