Friday, January 25, 2013

Staying in Hotel is no more safe?
by Seoul Yen
So this is my first ever note on FB and this is a story of what happened to me yesterday.
  1. I had work in Penang yesterday and arrived in Penang on Monday night. I stayed at Hotel Royal, Penang (a 4-star hotel) for the first time. And yes, drama followed me to Penang this time.

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 6.00am in my hotel room. Because I am obsessed with my phone, I will always grab it the moment I wake up to check messages etc. The phone was supposed to be next to my pillow, charging. I last spoke on the phone with my husband at 2.00am. The phone was not there. I looked under the blanket and it was still not there. I grabbed my handbag, wanting to take my office blackberry to miscall my Samsung phone.

As soon as I opened my handbag, I saw that my purse was open. I noticed all my cash (except for RM1 notes) were missing. I looked for my blackberry and it was also not in my handbag. It immediately struck me that someone had stolen my phone (Samsung Note), my office phone (Blackberry), and all my cash (about RM250) in my locked hotel room (that could only be accessed with the hotel card) with the door latch ON while I was asleep!! Though I was really relieved to see my car keys still in my handbag. I got out of bed to the door and saw that the door latch was open. I knew immediately that someone had gone into my room because I was very very sure I had closed the door latch the night before. This has always been an intuitive habit in hotels, knowing I was sleeping alone.

I called the hotel operator immediately and was asked to go to the reception to lodge a complaint. I went down and filed a complaint. I told the hotel that my room was broken into while I was sleeping. After recording my complaint, the hotel manager was helpful to take me to the police station to lodge a police report. I made a report and my statement was taken by the police. It was fast and smooth.

After sorting out the report, we went back to the hotel. The police also arrived, almost immediately. This was around 9++ am. They (3 police officers) came to my hotel room, took pictures and tried checking if the room door could have been opened from the outside with the latch on. It was possible. If the door was somehow opened using a master card or gadget from the outside, the latch (this was the triangle type ones- not the ones with a chain) could be opened by a slight push and some adjusting.

We then went down to the security room to watch the hotel CCTV.

Patiently watching the CCTV footage of the corridor of my room floor the whole night with nothing caught on camera initially, it then showed that at 4.30am, 2 men were outside my room! The moment I saw this, I had goosebumps all over. Imagine what 2 men could have done to me in my own hotel room while I was SLEEPING????? I am relieved that I slept throughout the entire incident. Because honestly, I wouldn’t know how to react if I saw 2 men in my room. THANK YOU, GOD!!!!!! I was not harmed. The ‘what ifs’ are just too scary to imagine.

As an ending to my story, after all that has happened, yesterday at check out, despite regretting this incident, the hotel still insisted me to pay my hotel bill. (And on top of that, I was also billed RM70.00 being telephone charges for calls I made because my phone was STOLEN). No apology was even offered to me. Apparently, hotels are not responsible for things like this. Meaning, I’m now responsible for my own safety while sleeping in a locked room that I PAID for?

I have no idea how this could have happened, whether I was a target for staying alone or what sort of syndicate this is but at the end of it all, no matter how painful it is to lose your phone (oh, my unsaved photos!) and cash, all these are replaceable. Most importantly- I AM SAFE, Alhamdulillah.

Things can happen when least expected, so just be careful. Crooks are getting braver, smarter with sophisticated gadgets and there are always eyes watching you. This could have happened to anyone, anywhere or at any hotel.

So yesterday was an extremely long day for me. Thank you Yaya for coming over to the hotel to check on me and accompany me the whole day (And for lending me a temporary phone too, yay!). The much needed support. I love you girl!

As this case is still pending police criminal investigation, I cannot share much but I feel obligated to warn you all of my experience!

Safety Tips for Women, Hotel Stays

Hotel Card-key Safety

How safe am I when staying at a hotel?

This should be the question a woman asks herself each and every time she makes reservations to stay at any hotel. The reality is this, how safe you remain depends on you. The term "safe," includes those things that are as big (or bigger) than an average female, as well as those things that are so tiny she will hardly realize they are there at all (until that rash breaks out). No matter how big or how small, knowing how to protect yourself from hotel dangers will keep your identity your own, your skin rash-free, and your life in a continued unharmed and animated state.

Why Hotel Safety for Women is Important to me

While working in a supervisory capacity as a fire, life, and Law Enforcement safety officer for a highly rated and high quality hotel brand, I discovered the vulnerability within the hotel guests services venue. Which led me to one conclusion; female travelers are continually at risk. The chain I was working with had a large Japanese guest population, which were being preyed upon by a very organized group of thieves. While the visitors were busy planning their day around the schedule of a very famous mouse, these thieves were plotting to steal everything from souvenirs to passports. After receiving far too many reports of guests being violated in one form or another, I had to solve this problem, post-haste. 
Predators Stalk Hotel Guests
I was the team leader in capturing the group who were violating the tourist. Three of my supervising police officers and I put together a sting operation that, after only one week managed to captured nine lead members of this hotel theft ring. The mouse and his cartoon friends were very relieved. But, this is not the reason I have told you this story, statistics are the reason, or lack of them I should say.

Very Important Fox News Report on Hotel Safety (YouTube video)

To my surprise, the statistics surrounding these arrests were documented among the regular city crime. No one could have discerned the higher likelihood of crimes against hotel female guests because the information was never configured as such. The truth is this, as a female hotel guest, no matter how sophisticated the hotel chain, or how popular the name, you are at much higher risk of being violated than when in your usual living environment. This guide hopes to help keep you just a little safer and aware of your surroundings when staying at any hotel chain.

Hotel Card Key Safety

One of the first things that pops into our mind when thinking about hotel keycard safety is making sure you know where your key is at all times; which is really good thinking. However, keeping your cardkey safe from other forms of perpetration may not cross your mind at all.
If you unknowingly stay in a hotel or Motel that has lax security you could find someone unexpected waiting in your room when you arrive. The scary part is that we can't really track any crimes that occur during these breaches, because law enforcement does not document hotel crimes separately from other crime records. You have to protect yourself by knowing the chain of hotels you choose to stay with, and how safe they are willing to keep you.

Hotels Can Lack Safety Minded Staff
In some cases, Hotel staff have been lazy or lack security mindedness. There are reports where staff have handed out new card keys to strangers who pretend to know you, who can then gain access to the room in question; your room! This is a form of danger that can be very harmful and even deadly. A few security tips are listed below.
You have to be the one who keeps your personal safety as the highest priority, because you can rarely count on a stranger to do it for you.
  • Avoid rooms on the ground floor.
  • Wedge luggage in the hotel room door upon arrival so you have a clear get-away.
  • Request a new room if you even think people around you have heard the room number the desk clerk assigns to you.
  • If someone comes knocking on your hotel room door, even if they identify themselves as hotel staff, call the front desk to verify their I.D.

Hotel maid caught stealing from guest wallet. (YouTube video)

Thieves Among Hotel Staff

Dishonest Hotel Employees
When away on business or on vacation you may have a lot on our mind; boardrooms or tourist attractions are usually all we think about. The safety of our hotel room in our absence rarely gets thought about. Generally travelers trust that the maid service will come in and clean the bathroom, empty the trashes and make the bed. What we don't expect is that this same trusted hotel staff member is also a thief!
When away from your hotel room, always secure your important and pricey items inside the hotel safe (or don't bring such items at all). Never assume that your maid will be the honest maid that would never take even a writing pen from your room. The reality is that these staff members are not paid a top salary, and in some cases resentment breeds criminal activity. They don't know you, they don't care about your things, and they will steal from you if you create the opportunity.
Should you be the victim of a hotel room robbery, report it as soon as possible to hotel security. The perpetrator may still be on duty with your property hidden in a locker or stuffed in an apron bib.

Avoid Upsetting the Hotel Maid Service at ALL Cost!

How Does the Hotel Maid Get those Nasty Stains Off of the Toilet Bowl?

Disgruntle Maids

As disturbing as this may be, maid service is the one thing you should have huge concerns about when staying in a hotel. These staff members are allowed access to every room within the hotel, and they are packing a master key to give them that access at any given time. More often then not, you will be away when the hotel maid service comes, "knock, knock, knocking" at your hotel room door. Protect yourself from the disgruntled employee who can turn into a not so nice individual. 

If your maid is having a bad day or is simply mischievous, you could be a victim of germ warfare without even knowing it! Never leave your personal care items within sight of service people when staying at a hotel of any caliper. How a maid manages to get the stain out of the toilet bowl may well be more information then you care to realize; until it has to do with your travel toothbrush!


(click column header to sort results)
every 31 minutes 
women / young men
Forceable Rape
every 5.8 minutes 
Women / children
every 1.2 minutes 
Aggravated assault
every 37.6 seconds
every 14.6 seconds
Larceny / Theft
every 4.9 seconds
Motor vehicle theft
every 29. 7 seconds

Would You Know How to Fight Off an Attacker Who Makes it into Your Hotel Room?

The statistics are not easily located for Hotels alone, because crime statistics are lumped into crimes for the city, county or state and not for the hotel industry as its own entity. However, the probability of a woman being assaulted increases significantly when she travels for many reasons. Here are just six of them:

Women's defense lesson against attacker (YouTube Video)

6 Reasons Women Are More Vulnerable When Traveling:
  1. She is unfamiliar with the area she is staying at (this leads to interaction with unknown persons).
  2. On vacations we tend to let down our guard (which criminals are counting on).
  3. Travelers (male or female) can get easily disoriented when going from point A to point B (If you're thinking about where you are, you're not thinking about where your wallet is).
  4. Women get monitored by seedy hotel staff more regularly, who then can give away your schedules or departure information (Your personal information can be handed off to a hotel employees friend or relative to exploit your good nature, your size, or your empty hotel room).
  5. You are not familiar with the sounds and activities surrounding you (Not knowing the safe noises from dangerous noises can cost you your safety in a flash).
  6. Travelers are pretty much sitting ducks for crime savvy thieves who watch as they set luggage down for "just a minute" (When checking schedules for transportation, entertainment, meals, or meeting times, people generally use both hands, which leaves your "things" vulnerable to those who have been waiting for such an opportunity before striking).

The Unthinkable

Why Women Are Attacked More Often Than Men
When you are shut into a hotel room, where you are unfamiliar, women in particular become victims more often then men. Sexual predators in particular, find hotels a very "victim rich" hunting ground. Knowing a few defense moves is always a good idea, but vitally important when traveling alone. A defense weapon (non-lethal capsicum sprays) can help to ward off assault attempts, giving you a chance to run to safety or to get help after the spray has been discharged.
Why Carry Defense Tools
Even though I am a highly trained close-quarters hand-to-hand combat instructor, I travel with non-lethal spray as a defense tool. Never underestimate the strength of an assailant. When I teach defense classes, I constantly remind my students that there is ALWAYS someone bigger and badder than you, no matter how skilled you may be. If that predator is in a drug induced state, even the best trained woman or man, can become victims.
The "W" Hotel Marque in San Diego
The "W" Hotel Marque in San Diego
Source: likeme

San Diego W Hotel

The San Diego's W Hotel (W Hotels are found worldwide) are among those considered to be quite safe for women and travelers, whether on business or vacationing. San Diego has much to offer and remains one of my personal favorites. No matter what hotel brand you stay with, always remember to practice good travel safety habits. By doing so you can reduce or prevent becoming a victim in real life as well as within your travel memoirs.

San Diego's W Hotel

421 West B Street, San Diego, California -
421 W B St, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
[get directions]Call: (619) 398-3100 Hotel Amenities: AWAY® Spa SWEAT® Fitness Center Acura Experience Whatever/Whenever® Service Pets Are Welcome™ Internet

Protecting you and your Luggage from Bed Bugs, even in a four star Hotel! (YouTube video)

Bed Bug Life Cycle Poster
Bed Bug Life Cycle Poster
Source: Design by K9keystrokes

Hotel Creepy-Crawlies; The Hotel Bed Bug

The dreaded bed bug has been in the news regularly lately as New York has been struggling with them for the past year or so. These little creepy-crawlies can survive in any hotel room, no matter how well known the brands high quality may be. Humans are carriers and these critters are very tiny passengers that can hardly be detected. Know what to look for (by watching the Bed Bug Invasion video above). If you suspect an infestation, move to another hotel at once. Just because the bedding gets changed, doesn't mean the bugs are gone. They live in the mattresses, the ticking, and even on the floor.
Bed Bug Bites
If you get bitten by bed bugs, you are likely to experience red itchy bumps that are unexplained. If you have the symptoms, go to the doctor and get treated. You will probably have to rid your luggage and home of bed bugs as they multiply quickly after stowing away in your travel bags.

Interceptor Bed Bug Trap

Insect Interceptor Bed Bug Trap
Insect Interceptor Bed Bug Trap
Bed Bug Safety
Here are some devices you can easily purchase and use on your own house hold items and luggage. The function of the device is to prevent bugs from crawling up onto your bed from the floor, and to trap bugs as they exit the bed heading to the floor. Bed bugs can travel with you quietly and undetected as the bites can take a day or so to show up.

Bed Bug Bags

DB3: Anti Bed Bug Bags, for travel and living DB3: Anti Bed Bug Bags, for travel and living
Current Bid: $10.00

Concluding Hotel Security and Safety for Women

Always take these hotel safety topics with you when traveling for business or pleasure. Keeping your person, property, and health safe is your job. Never depend on a hotel chain to provide ultimate safety for you. Hotel employees are just that, employees. As with any area of employment you can find those who will go above and beyond the call of duty, but on the other end of the spectrum, you will find the seedy side of the world of hotel employees; and it is not a safe or pretty sight at all.
Your overall safety is in your own hands, love yourself enough to protect you. Never forget your family and friends are counting on you to come home to them unharmed!

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