How to handle theft from a hotel in Ireland when visiting from USA?
August 17, 2012 10:58 AM   Subscribe

While on vacation in Dublin, Ireland, my cousins' cellphones and some cash were stolen from their hotel room. The hotel staff were less than helpful about the situation. How do they proceed?

We had a great trip to Ireland, except for one thing - on our first night in Dublin my cousins were in my hotel room and their room next door was burglarized. They had just come next door for a few minutes when we heard someone try the handle on my door. I thought someone just had the wrong room, but when they went back to their room both cellphones (one brand new) and about 400 euros had been stolen.

The hotel staff helped us contact the police that night and reviewed the security tapes. A man was in the hotel bar, then walked up the (un-guarded, unlocked, open to the street) stairs to our hallway and tried each door until he was able to open theirs.

We're thankful that they were not in the room at the time, and that their passports and credit cards were not stolen. However, they are out about $1200 altogether, between the phones and cash, and feel that the hotel is at least partially responsible for having lax security. We were in a small part of the hotel that does not require key-card access to the floors. The remaining rooms need room keys to get in the elevator. The hotel staff got very defensive and started blaming the girls for leaving their phones in the room when they were just next door and thought their door was locked.

We left Ireland Wednesday with the hotel staff saying they would "be in touch" about the outcome. If nothing else, we would like them to follow up with us about the way the rooms in our part of the hotel were not secured by elevator key-card access when the rest of the hotel was. They promised that they would be "looking in to additional security".

We have the police officer's contact info to request a police report, and my cousins are talking to their insurance company to see if any of the loss can be compensated. In the meantime, do you have any suggestions about we can stay on top of the situation?
posted by elvissa to Travel & Transportation around Dublin, Ireland (11 answers total)
Your cousins left lots of money in a room that has multiple master keys, and at a facility that likely has high turnover amongst staff with access to those keys. Yeah, it would be nice if the hotel had elevator security to your floor, but that isn't why the money was stolen. This guy could have just as easily caught a ride with another patron up the elevator to your floor.

In short, this is an expensive lesson in securing personal belongings while traveling. Get new cell phones, write the money off (literally, if they itemize their tax returns, along with the cost of used phones of the same make, model, and age), and get on with living.
posted by bfranklin at 11:07 AM on August 17, 2012 [8 favorites]

I was in a similar situation in Italy and using a copy of the police report, I was able to get fully compensated for the loss. Just be sure to get the police report, that is what you need. I would have recommended getting it before you left the country but since you have already left, just get it as soon as you possibly can and stay on top of them until they get it to you.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:07 AM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agreed with bfranklin that the hotel thing is a red herring. They left valuables out in an unlocked room. Hard to put the blame on anyone else in this scenario but chalk it up to a lesson learned.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:10 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

If they have travel insurance they may be able to claim. The hotel has no liability as they did not take reasonable care with their belongings.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:19 AM on August 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've traveled a fair bit and never stayed in a hotel that required a keycard to access the floor, so I don't think that's such a norm that not having it would be considered negligence on the part of the hotel. Much more common, though is hotel room doors that automatically shut and lock, though, so was there something broken about the door that would have prevented it from locking as expected? Or did your cousins simply not notice that they needed to lock or forget to lock it? If the door was broken you might have more of an argument for compensation from the hotel.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:59 AM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

You could leave a bad review on Tripadvisor. You might get a good response from the hotel, or you might just get a snippy comment from the management about how the door was left open.

But I don't think that the hotel has a legal obligation here, exactly... the stuff was in an unlocked room. You wouldn't blame your landlord if you left your apartment door open and someone came in and took your TV.
posted by mskyle at 12:08 PM on August 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for your answers everyone! They were fairly certain that the door closed firmly and shut behind them, and the police man who came tried to close the door a few times without having it lock and he could not keep it open. The hotel originally said that the doors are fire doors and should slam and lock on their own, but then the next day said they must have left them open.

We already felt sort of unsafe in the hotel, given that the stairs to our room opened onto a busy street with lots of people coming and going from the bar. We were actually all together in my room trying to find a better hotel to switch to for the rest of the trip. In hindsight, it just seemed kind of odd that one part of the hotel had the added security feature while ours did not.

They're in contact with the police for the incident report, and we'll wait to hear back from the hotel. I'm also going to add a review to trip advisor. I just wanted to make sure we weren't forgetting or missing anything.
posted by elvissa at 12:48 PM on August 17, 2012

Sorry that this happened, but I have to agree that leaving valuables out in the open in ANY hotel room no matter the security is a foolish thing to do, whether you're down the hall or across town. Leaving the room without double checking the lock on the door (especially since you were aware of potential access to your hallway) is icing on the cake.

I don't think this is negligence on the part of the hotel, and to be honest I think it's a shady move to post a bad review on tripadvisor to bully the management into paying for your cousins mistake. If you want to post that security is not all it could be, that's fair. Publicly thrashing the hotel because they don't want to foot the bill for your cousins carelessness is not cool or honest.

Differing security/amenities etc. is fairly common in hotels that are older and have expanded at some point.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 1:27 PM on August 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

This exact scenario happened to members of my school group on a college field trip to Dublin in 2006--at least two rooms were burglarized. I don't remember how law enforcement handled it or if my classmates got any of their stuff back, but our hotel was similarly *shrug* about it. I suspect "prowling upstairs from the hotel bar to try door handles for ones that open" is a standard theft tactic in Dublin if not elsewhere. In my classmates' case, they were all in their rooms asleep--in the last room one girl woke up from hearing a guy digging through the dresser; he mumbled something like "Oops wrong room" and fled.
posted by nicebookrack at 1:42 PM on August 17, 2012

If they have renter's insurance in the US, they should be at least partially covered. Similarly, if they purchased travel insurance prior to the trip, this could be at least partially covered.

I've dealt with a stolen brand new cell phone before -- often your mobile carrier will cut you a one-time deal to get the "new contract" rate on a replacement, within a certain amount of "brand new" (a six month old phone probably wouldn't be eligible, but a two week old phone would).

If they happen to have bought the brand new phone on Amex, they should call Amex customer support and see if there's anything they can do. American Express is brilliant in situations like this.

As for any amount not covered?

Sorry, bad things happen sometimes. There's nothing much they can really do. Short of suing the hotel in the Irish equivalent of small claims -- which sounds more expensive than just writing off the loss of a few hundred Euros -- they can't really force the hotel to reimburse them. I mean, a comped night would have been great, but the trip is over, so at this point they can't expect much.
posted by Sara C. at 2:10 PM on August 17, 2012

When I say "leave a bad review on Tripadvisor" I was thinking more about your concerns with the security features of the hotel and your unhappiness with the way the hotel staff handled your complaint than accusing them of negligence... if you posted this story on Tripadvisor and accused the hotel of negligence, I (as a traveler) would probably not take your review very seriously. If you just write an angry revenge-review, I don't think that's probably going to help (although it might make you feel better, if you go in for that kind of thing).

But! If you posted a clearly-thought out negative review explaining your concerns about security at the hotel and the hotel's unsatisfactory response, that might influence my hotel decision and, more importantly (to me - admittedly this is no help to you) it would let me know that if I *did* end up staying at that hotel I should be extra-careful about checking that the door is locked and extra-careful about leaving stuff lying around.
posted by mskyle at 6:05 PM on August 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

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