travel safety

21 Proven Ways To Prevent Hotel Room Theft

Safety is always a concern while you’re traveling away from home.

While most people take careful measures to safeguard their health and well being, they seem to care much less about their belongings.

Theft almost always catches us by surprise. Unfortunately, sometimes we deserve some of the blame for not carefully taking precautionary measures to prevent it (or as much as we can).

One of the more surprising places where theft happens is in your hotel room.

Your guard is down. It’s your home away from home. And you sometimes don’t even notice it’s gone until you get back home.

Well, today I’m going to show you 21 proven ways to prevent hotel room theft.

You don’t have to use all of these tips, but using just SOME of them can dramatically deter theft while you’re enjoying your holidays or business trip.


Travel Safety: 21 Ways To Stop People Stealing In Your Hotel Room


1. Lock your luggage

Put all your important things in your luggage and lock it with a TSA safe lock. It’s been proven that keeping your valuables out of sight dramatically reduces theft. You can also consider locking your luggage/backpack to an unlovable item or a large awkward object if there isn’t an unmovable object. An example would be a chair. Imagine someone trying to take your luggage with a chair tied to it! Fantastic deterrent.

2. Buy an anti-theft bag

If you are traveling to high theft destinations or backpacking, I would highly recommend buying an anti-theft bag/luggage. It’s built in a way that makes it extremely difficult for others to get into your valuables that you’ll be storing in your bag. This brand is one of the best anti-theft bags you can buy.

3. Put the “do not disturb” sign on the door when you’re away

When you’re about to leave your room, put out your “do not disturb” sign. It simple tells the world that you are in your room, even though you’re not. This is one of the easiest ways to keep maids, cleaners, and anyone else from entering your room.

4. Use the safe in your room

Some may disagree with me on this, but I like to use the safe in my room if I feel it’s good. If I am staying in a decent hotel, I almost always use the safe (they tend to have higher quality safe’s). The problem with hotel safes is the hotel always has a way to get into it in case they need to (like when you forget your passcode). They will always have a spare key for safe’s that require keys, too. You’ll have to use your judgement.

5. Leave the TV on

Don’t blast it, but leave it on loud enough so if someone is outside your door, they can hear it. Just like leaving your “do not disturb” sign out while your away, people will think you are in your room when they can hear your TV.

6. Leave the light on

This is more important if you have a window or a balcony. Lights on signals you’re home. Yes, you’re wasting energy… but you’ve paid for your hotel and security is more important than the hotels energy bill, right?

7. Use tamper evident tape

Tamper evident tape is often used in shipping items of importance. You can use this tape to seal valuable things, like a luggage lock, safes that require a key to open, or zippers on your bags/luggage. You can quickly see if your stuff has been tampered with when you get back in your room. It may not prevent your stuff from being stolen, but you’ll easily know if someones been rifling through your belongings. Tamper evident tape is inexpensive, check them out here.

8. Leave valuable stuff at home

Things that you don’t truly need on vacation needs to be left at home. Expensive jewelry is probably the most unnecessary thing people take on vacation. Yes, you want to accessorize and look great in your travel photos. But you put yourself at an elevated risk of theft because people see you with expensive items and know you probably have other expensive stuff in your room worth stealing.

Only bring essential valuables, like passports, money, credit cards, and tickets. Leave the rest at home.

9. Take your valuables with you

If you’re in a hotel that is really low end or doesn’t even have a safe, you may want to consider taking your valuables with you. If for any reason you don’t trust the security of your room, take your valuables with you when you leave your room.

I’d really consider getting a money belt because there is nothing safer than having your valuables right against your body and out of sight. You can keep your wallet, passport, credit cards, etc in there.

10. Keep your valuables in your hotel room

Having said that, there are times where you may want to keep your valuables in your hotel. If you’re in a city that is known for pick pocketers, or you’ll be doing adventurish things, going to the beach, or anything that can make it difficult for you to pay attention to your valuables, consider leaving them in your hotel room.

11. Don’t leave your valuables visible

What do you think your maid thinks when she comes into your room and see’s your laptop on the table, passport and money on the night stand, and camera on the bed? They’re probably thinking WOW, this person is pretty trusting (or stupid). This is a HUGE no no. It’s the same thing as keeping your valuables out of sight in your car. If they can’t see it they probably won’t steal it.

12. Don’t leave your room in a mess

This is something I’m super guilty of sometimes, especially in a room with a few people on an all-inclusive vacation. We leave everything out everywhere. Pants here, shirt there, camera in the bathroom, laptop beside my bed. It makes it really difficult for your room cleaner to clean your room. Next thing you know, your camera is missing. Your room is so messy, maybe you misplaced it? Or did the maid actually take it? YOU MAY NEVER KNOW! Keeping your room helps you keep track of your belongings, and helps your maid, too.

13. Use a cable lock

Cable locks come in all shapes and sizes, and you can wrap it something important, like your laptop. You can also tie it to something that will be hard to take out of the room, like a table or maybe your luggage. Plus, they can’t get into your laptop with it on. If you’re not sure what a cable lock is, you can see one here.

14. Request your room to not be cleaned

If nobody has a reason to come into your room…. well, then they don’t have a reason to come in! When I rented an apartment in Barcelona,   the maids would only come into my room when we requested it to be cleaned. I loved that. First, I’m not messy (so it doesn’t need to be cleaned), and I don’t want them in my room anyways (less of a chance something goes missing).

15. Don’t tell the world you’ve got expensive things

This is sometimes hard for traveling business people or if you’re at a destination wedding and you’re the best man (you hold the ring!) But don’t show the world you have expensive things if you can. Sometimes you can’t avoid sitting in the lobby with your $2000 Macbook Pro and $1700 DSLR. You gotta upload those photos and use the lobby wifi. I get it. But besides that, don’t flaunt what you got, or you might draw the wrong attention.


stop hotel theft

Pin this image on Pinterest 🙂


16. Use trackers for your computers and cell phones

With your Mac laptop, iPhone or iPad, built in is a “find my iPhone” feature that allows you to remotely track your phone, lock your phone, make it beep annoyingly, or wipe it completely. If somebody does happen to steal your apple device, you aren’t guaranteed to track it down. But know that they can never use your phone while “find my iPhone” is enabled, making it useless to them. Absolutely take advantage of this free feature from Apple.

I don’t know if Android has a built in app for this, but you can easily get one from the Android Market.

17. Close the blinds and windows

Most people naturally do this for privacy reasons, but the safety reason is that you don’t advertise yourself in any way. Are you in your room? Who knows. Is there a pattern you display (like you’re always back by 6 p.m.?) Who knows…. The less predictable you are the better.

18. If your room key hands visibly in the lobby don’t return it

This is more for hostels than hotels, but I’ve noticed some hostels have room keys that hang on the wall at the front desk. Basically, it advertises to the world that YOU’RE NOT IN YOUR ROOM when your key is visibly hanging there. That’s really bad. If this is your hotel/hostel, just take your key with you when you leave.

19. Hide valuables in obscure places

If you don’t trust your safe or you’re staying in a place that doesn’t have a safe, your next best place to hide your valuable items is your luggage. But don’t put them in an obvious place, like a zipper compartment. Wrap your credit cards & money in a ziplock bag and put it inside a bag of chips. Then put that bag of chips in a jacket pocket. Anyone that pulls that out will assume it’s just a bag of chips.

Wrap jewelry into a pair of socks that you can roll into a ball (just remember what colour the socks are!) Just make it extremely difficult for anyone who rifles through your stuff. The extra deterrence makes a huge difference.

20. Don’t invite people into your room

I find stuff seems to go missing more often when more people come into my room. Sometimes it just gets misplaced and someones I just have no clue what happened to my jacket! Don’t trust everyone, even if they seem really nice and pleasant. Only allow people in your room who actually need to be there, like the room cleaners or the guy who’s coming to open your safe because you messed it up.

21. Tip your maid

What kind of a maid would steal from someone who just generously gave her money? A SICK MAID!

Not saying this will never happen, but it’s got to take an incredibly terrible person to do this (or someone who’s really desperate).

Regardless, not only will your room be super clean and your bathroom/fridge well stocked, bathroom smelling great, and anything else room cleaners can do, you’ll get a warm smile if you catch your maid as you leave your room. That’s always heart warming.

Oh, and trust me, your maid will remember you. And if she see’s anything funky going on, like some random dude trying to get into your room, she’ll almost feel obligated to alert security.


Do you have a hotel theft experience you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

Leave a Comment:

72 Backpacking Tips Every Backpacker Should Know says

[…] Never keep your wallet in your back pocket. EVER. Keep your purse tight under your arm and never hang your purse on the back of your chair. Don’t leave your wallet and phone on the table when you’re dining outside. Keep your backpack in front of you, or don’t put anything valuable on the outside zipper. In fact, don’t carry anything overly valuable in your backpack, as they can even get into your main zipper and steal your stuff. Buy a money belt and use it. Overall, just be aware of your surroundings. If 6 random kids come up to you and shove papers in your face, you’re getting robbed. If a random person asks you to hold their baby, you’re getting robbed. If a random person stops you for an odd reason, you’re probably getting robbed. If a random person asks to take your picture with your camera, they may steal your camera. You need to keep anything worth stealing firmly in your hands (like your camera) or hidden from plain sight. Rick Steve has a quick post about outsmarting thieves. And on a side note, learn how to prevent hotel room theft here. […]

Stuart Forster says

I always have that internal debate, is it best to lock away my passport or to keep it on me. Is theft less likely than being pick-pocketed or robbed while out.

    Expat Jason says

    It’s hard, isn’t it? I basically leave stuff in my room if possible. I think there is less of a chance someone steals from my room than getting pick pocketed.

Jessica says

Hm, these are some solid tips. I may consider the “do not disturb” sign and leaving the lights on!


    Expat Jason says

    Yea! The cleaners don’t come clean your room when the sign is up. So, NOBODY should be in it… theoretically.

Aaron says

I always make sure I leave my valuables in the safe at the hotel (passport etc) and take only what I need when I go out. Sometimes I will leave the hotel with only enough cash I need for the day, that way can minimise any loses in case I get robbed.

marie killip says

Have just returned from a Blackpool hotel and found two articles missing ,a carrier with new jacket and receipt,and in another bag right at the bottom ,other things on top of it slippersalong with that gutted.hotel not interested,I know who did it ,a cleaner ,but of course I can’t prove,I went back to room unexpected knowing he was there but had a terrible but feeling,and even knocked before I entered,even had a few words with him,he was shifty and edgy.

    Expat Jason says

    Oh that’s terrible Marie!! There’s not a lot you can do, like you said. I think it’s still important to make a complaint. The hotel needs to know they have bad employees.

Fred Beyers says

I was staying at Circus Circus in Reno to watch the Breeders Cup. I purchased four (4) 10 cent superfecta for each of the four (4) Breeders Cup races on Friday.
I left those tickets stacked in four stacks, one stack for each race, on my hotel room desk, and went down on Saturday morning to bet the Saturday races. When I returned the dresser drawers had been opened, the closet door had been opened, and the phone had been taken off the hook. The four stacks were in place BUT in the two stacks that had a winning ticket in them, those winning tickets had been removed. I had left the “do not disturb” notice in the door lock.
I do not understand how a maid would have known winning tickets from losers.
I was on the 20th floor and in my entire stay NO ONE got off the elevator with me on that floor.
I am baffled by what happened.

    Expat Jason says

    That is incredibly baffling. That’s so sad to hear too. I think with most things in life, you can’t protect yourself from everything. You do everything you can and hope for the best. I hope you have better luck no your not travels Fred.

Shanti Kala says

Keeping valuable things at home and buying an anti-theft bag is the best choice for me. And I think we ourselves are responsible for all our stuff, not the hotel authorities, especially those things which are in our room. So we should take preventive measures and follow these beneficial tips to prevent thefts in hotel room.

Shanti Kala says

Unfortunately, hotel room thefts are too common.You check into your hotel, drop your things off in your room, head off into town and you come back everything is gone! To avoid being one of those people, important measures need to be followed to keep your belongings safe in a hotel room. And this post explains them well!!

Luke Yancey says

I agree that leaving your TV and light on when you go out are excellent ways to prevent theft! However, my favorite tip of yours was number fifteen. Most of the time people get robbed because they make themselves stand out with expensive things. Hide that $1,700 DLSR in an ugly lunchbox. Take the Macbook with you when you go out, and if possible, don’t take it out when in plain site when on the hotel grounds. Do everything to look like you are a local. These are all things you can do to prevent getting robbed and I’ve found them to be effective.

Ramki says

One can also use this anti theft device called smart unit as mentioned here > This device once placed inside your baggage will track your
baggage in real time in your smartphone within the 30m bluetooth range. It will send alert
messages once out of 30m range and also it can locate your baggage on the map in the app in the smartphone in case your baggage is stolen or lost in transition.

Accommodationhedland says


I needed something like this, great tips guys.
Absolutely useful post.

Because few days ago my MacBook was stolen by someone when I just left my room for a while. I was really shocked after that.

Because that MacBook was my favourite gadget. Everybody have to be careful when you are in the hotel.
And this article is really useful.

Thanks for sharing.
Keep doing good work God bless U!

Otel Kapı Kilidi says

Realy very good for hotel door locks.

Lani says

We recently travelled to North of Miami late last month and I placed the “Do not Disturb” sign on our door and when we came back from the beach, the maid cleaned our room and made the bed.😱

Add Your Reply