Tips to Help Prevent Hotel Room Thefts with Hotel Safes

Tips to Help Prevent Hotel Room Thefts with Hotel Safes

What does it mean hotel safe?

Hotel safes are available that can be opened and closed with a swipe card instead of a combination or key, this means that the same card used for unlocking the room door could be used to open the safe or if the hotel prefers the customer could use their own credit card.

Why are there safes in hotel rooms?

Hotel room safes provide guests with a more secure method to keep their valuables safe while they’re away from home. If you’re still not completely confident in using one, you also have the option of using your own lock to secure your briefcase with your belongings inside.

Hotel safes: do’s and don’ts

The hotel safe is one of the must-haves in a hotel room. A good hotel room gives the home-away-from-home, safety plays a major role in this. A well-functioning safe is an important factor, not only in the hotel room but also behind the reception.
What to think of when purchasing a new hotel safe.

1. Size

One of the perhaps obvious choices you face when selecting new hotel safes is size. Based on the type of hotel guest, a business guest will need a laptop-sized safe, whereas a leisure guest often needs a safe that fits just a tablet, camera and passport. In many cases, the size of the hotel safe also depends on where it is placed in the hotel room. The hotel safe is often in the (wardrobe) cupboard, in this case it is important to check whether a safe fits and whether it can be operated properly. The smallest safe fits a telephone, keys, jewellery and a passport. The largest safe can easily fit a widescreen laptop and other personal belongings.

Even bigger than the largest hotel safe is the reception safe. This type of safe is used back of house for larger valuables and, for example, storing cash. These safes are equipped with shelves for extra storage convenience. A variant of this is the so-called deposit safe, this type of safe can be assembled in all kinds of ways and is specifically suitable for depositing money at the end of a shift.

2. Installation

A safe can be placed separately in a wardrobe or elsewhere in the hotel room. However, some hotel safes can also be built-in or attached to the wall or floor. This provides extra protection for the goods and prevents misuse of the safe, this option can also save space. Naturally, during installation or wall mounting, the applicable safety regulations must be taken into account and approved mounting materials must be used at all times.

3. Opening

The most common safe opening is a door with a turning mechanism. There are also safes that open with a drawer and top-open safes. The word drawer safe says it all; you open this model with a code and then pull the unlocked drawer from the safe towards you. The storage space of a drawer safe is optimal because there is no need to take into account the rotating hinge when opening. A top-open safe is a safe whose front panel rises when unlocked by means of a compact hydraulic system. The door will then be at an angle of approximately 65 degrees.

Depending on where the safe is placed, the above safes can be practical solutions.

4. Control system

At the moment a LED or LCD panel is the most common type of safe control. When using a safe with LCD/LED panel, the hotel guest can enter a personal numerical code to open the safe again after closing, often 4 to 6 digits.

Another option for operating a hotel safe is a model with card reader. This type of safe is equipped with a reader that opens or closes the safe using a magnetic card.

5. Masterkey or Mastercode

Both offer the hotel management the possibility to open the safe if the guest has forgotten the self-chosen numerical code or if the safe remains closed unintentionally for whatever reason.

6. Masterkey

A master key is separate key that is supplied with many different safes and is only to be used by hotel management and must be kept properly. This key is specifically linked to the series in which the hotel safes came out of production and can open the locker on the back of the safe or behind the control panel. Reordering a master key, for example when it gets lost, is only possible in exceptional cases.

7. Mastercode

A master code must be implemented by the hotel management when installing the hotel safe. If this does not happen, the safe is equipped with a standard master code which may be known to parties with bad intentions. In this case, the master code is not an extra security but a threat. If the master code has been installed correctly, the hotel management can open a safe at any time by entering the relevant numerical code. An exception to this is when the batteries of the safe are dead, entering the master code is pointless in this case because the system will not work because it has no power supply.

Tip: always check the status of the batteries, but also; keep the master key safe at all times. Despite working with a master code, the master key may still be necessary when, for example, the master code gives an error or the batteries of the safe are dead.

The last option for opening a hotel safe by the hotel management is to use a remote control. A remote control can be purchased separately for certain models and is a small electronic device used to manage and control one or more safes. The device restores and opens the vaults and can read up to 200 past operations.

13 Tips to Help Prevent Hotel Room Thefts


  1. Before You Book
    When you’re booking your hotel check online to determine its location. Is it in a busy business district? Near tourist locations? Close to a police station? Is it in a seedy area of town? Google Maps, MapQuest and especially Google Earth are good tools to use to get a “feel” for the area of town and what is nearby. While these are good tools, online reviews at, and StayFaster also hold value in determining if a hotel is deemed safe. If you’re traveling internationally, make sure to check with the U.S. State Department as it offers country-specific safety information on its website; see Travel Warnings and Advisoriesto see hot spots and areas to avoid.
  1. What is the hotel security?
    Finding out the type of hotel security your hotel offers may be difficult. However, it’s not difficult to call and ask about the types of locks on the doors, if the hallways have security cameras. (The cameras can identify the thief if their is a theft.) Most hotel rooms already have a dead bolt lock on the door that limits someone from gaining access to the room when it’s locked from the inside. (If you get someone on the phone go ahead and ask them about parking. Is there valet? Garage parking? How far is the walk into the lobby from the parking and is the area well-light at night?)
  1. Selecting the Hotel Room
    You may not have a choice of rooms when you’re checking into a hotel, if you do ask to stay in a room on the third-floor or above. Try to avoid staying in a hotel room located on the ground floor, especially those located off the parking lot with windows and doors that open to the exterior of the hotel. Ground floor hotel rooms that open to an interior hallway or courtyard tend to be safer options. If you are in a ground floor room, make sure the windows are locked before you leave the room (and go to sleep).
  1. Read the Small Print
    Who reads the small print on the room registration documents you get when you either book a hotel online or check into a hotel? Be honest. Probably not. Well, you should. These documents detail what the hotel will and will not cover in terms of theft. Typically hotels do not insure their guest’s belongings.
  1. Lock Your Luggage
    When you’re flying, you can’t typically place a lock on your luggage, at least not in the United States but packing one so you can lock your luggage in your hotel room is an easy way to avoid hotel room thefts. (There are TSA approved luggage locks.) It might be a pain to pack everything you’re traveling with in the mornings before you head out, instead  simply put any valuable items – laptops, notebooks, cameras, phones – in your bag and lock it.

Taking this one step further, consider investing $10-$50 in security luggage cables that physically lock your suitcase or equipment down. Using a security cable, you can easily secure your bag to a pipe in the bathroom or a stationery piece of furniture. Note, make sure you’re using a slash proof bag.


  1. Lock Your Electronics
    Most computers can be individually locked down with a laptop cable lock. You can leave your laptop at the desk with it locked to something that can’t be moved.
  1. Be Present Even When You’re Out
    Making your room always look occupied deters thefts. Simply leaving a light on and the TV or radio on a low volume can make it appear that someone is in the room.
  1. Ask for New Keys – Not Duplicates
    If your hotel room keys are electronic and one is lost ask the hotel for a new room key – not a duplicate. This will reprogram the lock on the door in case the key was stolen. It’s important to note there have been a few security flaws reported in common keycard locks, resulting in many hotel room break-ins. Essentially the electronic locks were hacked, allowing thieves to enter hotel rooms undetected. This can make it difficult in reporting a hotel room theft. All the more reason to follow the previous two tips.
  1. Safes Aren’t Always Safe
    Most hotels have in-room safes and most of them charge you for that added security. Yet this added hotel security does not mean your belongings are insured by the hotel if there is a robbery. Most hotels are protected by individual states’ innkeeper’s laws, which state the hotel is not responsible for theft from your room – including the in-room safe. The exception is if you use the safe the hotel has behind its front desk. If you choose to use the front desk’s safe, make sure the items are insured.

Using the safe in your hotel room doesn’t mean your things are locked up. Most hotels have a back-way into their in-room safes, be it a master key or a master code. Management has access to these in case they need to assist guests if they loose their keys/code to the safe. This poses a security risk since there are people who can access your belongings.


If you’re not staying in a hotel that has a safe or simply don’t want to deal with a safe, check out a few diversion safes. These are items that appear to be everyday objects but they’re so much more. A simple hairspray bottle that’s been emptied out to hold cash or jewelry. Shaving cream cans and soda cans where the tops screw off or a book that has a hidden compartment, all create perfect containers to store valuables and travel documents.


  1. Give Them a Sign – Do Not Disturb and Make This Room
    Avoid hanging the door sign – Make This Room – unless you really need your room cleaned and you have your valuables with your or locked up. It’s the easiest way to identify target rooms.

If you don’t need your room cleaned, hang the Do Not Disturb sign on the door to keep cleaning staff out of the room. This doesn’t just eliminate possible thefts from hotel staff but from someone pretending they are staying in your room and coming back to grab a few things while the room is being cleaned. If someone is in the room, they’re going to avoid that room. The Do Not Disturb sign isn’t a sure fire way to keep cleaning crews out of your room though. You will need to call down to the front desk ask them to not clean your room.


  1. When You’re in Your Hotel Room
    Hotel thefts typically take place when you’re not in the room. But, we’ve all stayed in those questionable places where a bit of added security would make for a better night sleep. Besides moving a dresser in front of the door, there are a few small and inexpensive alarms you can travel with to protect yourself and your belongings when you’re in your room. Items such as the Door Jammer, the Swege Door Stop & Alarm and Portable Door Lockkeep the door secure when you’re in the room and the GE SmartHome Portable Security Kit provides security for the door and windows.
  1. Travel Insurance
    Insurance is a necessary evil. Before you purchase travel insurance though, check with your existing homeowners or renters insurance to see if your policy covers things like thefts when you’re traveling. To help with your search for the right travel insurance to meet your specific needs, make sure to read what you need to know about travel insurance.
  1. Don’t Forget – Or Overlook – The Obvious
    There are so many little things that seem to be common sense, but are often overlooked by travelers especially people who have become “comfortable” traveling. Here’s a quick reminder to prevent hotel thefts.

Don’t travel with your valuable jewelry, aka expensive, sentimental diamond earrings.

Don’t leave items just laying around your room – jewelry, technology, computers, notebooks, cameras, even receipts (think identity theft).

When you leave make sure your door is locked. Sounds silly but take a moment and turn around to make sure the door has closed and the lock has engaged.

Don’t share your room number with others.

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