Aussie Tourist Has 2,000 Dollars Stolen From Room Safe

10The following report is based on two (slightly edited) emails we’ve received today from an Australian reader, let’s call him Mr. Kelly, who spent his holidays in Pattaya earlier this month.

Mr. Kelly has been a regular visitor to Pattaya for 37 years and used to stay at the same hotel for the past 10 years. He alleges that during his stay there this month he had 2,000 Australian dollars (that’s over 50,000 Thai Baht) stolen from his room safe, presumably by night staff at the hotel.
Mr. Kelly notes this wasn’t first time that money had mysteriously disappeared from his room safe and that a friend also had a mobile friend stolen from his room – let’s assume by a maid. While Mr. Kelly hasn’t filed a formal complaint against the hotel, he’s asked us to reproduce his story as a general warning to other tourists.

For legal reasons (Thailand’s defamation laws are strict and used excessively), we’ve made the decision to stop short of identifying the hotel in question and will only say as much as that it’s a mid-range beachfront hotel somewhere along Pattaya Beach Road.
We’re aware that this omission renders our warning only little effective. Then again, this could certainly happen in any hotel or guesthouse not only in Pattaya (!) and unfortunately there’s hardly anything you can do to protect yourself.
In his first email, Mr. Kelly told us

Just like you to know that I have been visiting Pattaya for 37 years and for the last ten years staying at [name redacted]. The last occasion I thought I had some money stolen from my room safe back in 2014. This time in March 2015 I made sure it was not me that left the safe open which they said I did last time, because I was conscious I locked it. Blatant thieves stealing from customers by the night staff and not being able to do anything about it is frustrating. 2000 Dollars is not small money to anybody. Also my friend had his mobile stolen from his room. (…) This has ruined my expectations of the so called honest friendly Thai.

We asked Mr. Kelly whether he’d reported the theft to Pattaya Police Station, assuming there must have been fingerprints, CCTV footage from the corridor etc., which could have helped identify the culprits. We also wondered how the thieves actually gained access to the room safe (which we assumed was PIN code-protected) and what the reaction of the hotel management had been.
Here’s his reply:

1) No, I didn’t report it as I thought not much could be done after the crime had been done. I did check the camera footage and watched in fast forward but did notice a lot of black cuts in the tape. Later thinking, I should of checked the time frame around the cuts. Also having the police get involved and arrive at the hotel would of made it difficult to continue there with all the staff knowing I was pointing the finger at the late night staff.
2) If you forget your combination of the safe the hotel has a key which overrides the combination to get it open. By doing this they can’t lock it again because they don’t know the customer’s numbers. All they can do is leave it shut but not locked.
So they have the card to get into your room, open the safe all while the CCTV is off. Also taking only half the money is quite sneaky trying not to be noticed. Well, 2000 [Australian dollars] is certainly missed.
Yes, the hotel management just looks at you as though it wouldn’t happen. They say things like, it’s impossible to open the safe and you must of left it open and a visitor has taken it. And finish off with, you must be more careful, it’s Pattaya. Quite frustrating. (…)
P.S. Also my friend had his mobile phone stolen out of his room also at the [name redacted] hotel.

This is certainly not just frustrating because of the money or items stolen from the victims but also because some crooks among the hotel staff, which you have no other choice than to trust as a guest, blatantly rob the ones who pay their salaries. Silly pseudo-apologies by the management certainly don’t help. Mr. Kelly insists he had not received any guests in his room at the time of the theft.

Let’s just add that in our opinion, and despite the victim’s graspable objections, Mr. Kelly should have still reported the case to the (tourist) police and perhaps check into another hotel for the remainder of his vacation. If a formal complaint had been filed, it would have also been considerably easier to explicitly “name and shame” the hotel in question.
Finally, while Mr. Kelly intended to publish his story as a warning for other travelers not to leave too much cash in their room safes, the dilemma won’t go away: If hotel guests can’t even confidently leave their valuables in a “code-protected” (sic) room safe, where should they keep them? Unfortunately there’s not really a better alternative.

8 Responses to Aussie Tourist Has 2,000 Dollars Stolen From Room Safe

  1. If the victim can’t be bothered to report th crime to the police he can hardly expect this type of crime to stop. Yes the CCTV might have been switched off by the night staff for a period to commit the offence but this in itself would give the police reason to question the night staff.
    The electronic locks on the hotel doors can also be read and would tell you when and who entered the room. I wonder if there is some other reason for this ‘victim’ not wanting too much investigation into this missing money.
    As you rightly say not publishing the name of the hotel makes this whole warning largely a waste of time so the thieves will continue to get rich and the tourists will continue to dwindle as more and more stories of crime ridden Pattaya emerge.

    • I pretty much agree, Chris. Just wish to point out that the name of the hotel is known to us but for reasons mentioned above (without an official complaint being filed we might be seen as violating defamation laws) we decided not to publish it ourselves.

  2. For pity’s sake.
    Just wasted 10 minutes of my life reading this. We all know that hotel safes are only as safe as the honesty of the hotel staff with access.

    Without the name no-one cam avoid the hotel and there are many mid-range beachfront hotel along Pattaya Beach Road. It’s a bit like saying ‘one of the ladies on beach road is nut job’ – useless generality. As you say this could certainly happen in any hotel or guesthouse and unfortunately there’s hardly anything you can do to protect yourself – in fact the only thing you can do is vote with your feet and avoid places that have been named and shamed as room theft hotels.

  3. Hi guys,
    I’m (Grant Kelly) the person who was robbed from my room safe and wrote the article to Pattaya -Funtown back in March 2015. Since returning back to Australia my other friend staying in the same Hotel (Baboona Hotel) discovered that he too was robbed of 1000 dollars and his phone. He had returned a week earlier and told me this when i got back without knowing my story.
    As far as going to the police and reporting this I would of if i had known at the time that Pattaya-Funtown would of been able to write and shame this hotel without consequences. However, I did not at the time want to involve ALL the staff and create problems with a lot of good people i have spent time with on many occasions over the last ten years. There was no other reason than this besides just wanting to get on and enjoy my holiday. As i am still angry with myself trusting the room safe security and would not like this to happen to any traveler, I will again try and warn people of this Hotel. BABOONA HOTEL 119/3 North Pattaya, Beach Road,Pattaya, Thailand.

  4. Hi,

    On visiting the Hotel website of Expedia.com.au and checking out the reviews for the BABOONA HOTEL LIVING, Beach Road ,Pattaya I came across a review that bought back bad memories of my last stay in March 2015 in this SAME Hotel. Below is a very similar review from a fellow named Dan from England who stayed at the BABOONA HOTEL

    This blatant stealing of money from room safes by the BABOONA staff is so wrong and the Hotel should be closed till a full police investigation can be carried out for the sake of the Pattaya Tourist industry.

    Regards

    Grant Kelly

    Latest reviews from BABOONA HOTEL LIVING on web site of Expedia.com.au and also Trip Adviser

    1 out of 5
    by Dan from England
    Stolen money and unhelpful staff
    Posted 1 November 2015
    Cons: All the hotel staff should be investigated to find out who is involved in breaking into guests safes and they should be dealt with by the police.
    Whilst away from my room my in room safe was opened and a large amount of money stolen from inside. All my cash and valuables were locked inside and it was locked with my four digit number. Immediately after discovering the missing money I went to the hotel reception and informed them. They didn’t react as if it was important and seemed not sure what to do. I asked to talk to someone more senior because the front desk staff didn’t know what to do but they told me there was no one who could help me. I then told them I would go to the police, again they didn’t seem bothered. I reported the theft to the police and they suggested I should return to the hotel and ask to view the hotel CCTV footage. I then proceeded to review the entire days footage from the CCTV camera outside my hotel room door. The CCTV footage showed the whole days activity except for a 30 minute period (which had apparently been deleted) with me leaving the room and then coming back but with a 30 minute time jump in the middle. I confronted the hotel staff about the CCTV footage and they seemed to find it funny and acted as if it was a joke! I reported everything to the police who are still investigating. So if you stay here don’t trust the room ‘safe’ and don’t expect any help from the staff if you have a problem!

  5. I stayed in the windy inn hotel few years ago near walking st. My daugter lost 350 pounds.taken from envelope in her bag.left 100 pounds. Never again be carefull.

  6. Also my freinds got ripped off 800000 bhart.speed boats scam beach rd .evening.saw owners and police drinking partying. They had to go home as ran out of money.happened a few years ago. Does it still happen here.

    • 800k baht?!! Haven’t heard about jet ski scams for a while now but guess it’s still happening? I just don’t use them.

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