Q: Hi, Mr. Greenberg. I Googled "Italian Hotel Theft Laws," and I came across some of your articles. Recently my wife and I went to our honeymoon in Rome. On the fifth day, our room was ransacked. My laptop, backup hard drive, cell phone, and iPod were stolen.
The hotel was VERY nonchalant about the situation. They asked me to fill out a hotel theft report and go to the police station to make another report. We were told that they'll work with their insurance company. That was the extent of their help. I am aware I can't do anything for the stolen goods, but I am indignant at the way the hotel handled the situation.
Talking to some locals, they recommended us pressing charges against the hotel. We do not know if that is a good idea, or if that's going to do anything. Any thoughts, tips, recommendations? BTW, our neighbors' rooms also got hit. They had to leave the day after, and were not able to do the police report. Thank you in advance.
–Oliver Lee, Miami
A: From what you said about the way the hotel handled your situation, I am not sure why you're indignant. It sounds like the staff listened to your complaint, had you file both a company theft report and a police report (always a good idea), and implied that there would be some sort of compensation from their insurance company. This is pretty much all they could have done.
Unfortunately, theft from hotel rooms in Europe is an all-too-common phenomenon, which could be why the hotel dealt with your situation in a manner that may have seemed cavalier to you.
However, if the hotel did not follow up with their promises of compensation, or if you suspect the theft was an inside job, then you might have grounds to take additional steps. For the first scenario, you'd have to go to the hotel management (or to a lawyer, if you don't get anywhere with the hotel), and for the second, you'd have to deal with the police. Any of those options could prove difficult, considering the distance and the language barrier.
I suggest chalking this up to experience and letting it go. In the future, to deter theft, leave your valuables in the safe at the front desk, or leave them at home. Don't leave things in your room safe, because these have recently become popular targets for thieves, who either break into them or steal them entirely.
For things you can't put in the safe at the front desk, hide or disguise them, as I described in the previous article you mentioned. Taking out travel insurance before your next trip can also offer extra protection. Check the fine print to ensure that personal items are covered in the event of theft, and make sure that electronics are not specifically excluded.