Articles Tagged with Hotel Rape

HotelOpenDoorMany travelers relax while on vacation, sometimes leaving themselves vulnerable to theft and assault. While security measures are not typically part of the hotel selection process, Independent Traveler suggests a little research may reduce a traveler’s risk of becoming a victim of hotel violence. We have highlighted some hotel safety tips below. Read the complete report at Independent Traveler.

Before Your Stay

Long before you actually book your hotel, start by doing your homework. Take a careful look at the security situation in the country and/or city you’ll be visiting….

When the time comes to book your hotel, don’t just look at rates and amenities — pay close attention to location as well. Is the hotel in an upscale residential neighborhood, a bustling business district or a seedy commercial area? Is it safe to walk around after dark? Is there a police station nearby? All of these factors could affect the likelihood of a break-in or assault during your stay. You can find neighborhood information online or in a good guidebook.

You’ll also want to find out about the hotel’s own security measures. Call ahead and ask whether the front desk is staffed 24 hours a day, if there are security guards on the premises and if there are surveillance cameras in the public areas…. Is access to guestroom floors restricted to guests only? If hotel staff can’t offer any specific examples of what they do to keep guests safe, book somewhere else.

Checking In

Don’t accept a room on the ground floor if you can avoid it. Many safety experts recommend staying somewhere between the third and sixth floors — where rooms are high enough to be difficult to break into, but not so high that they’re out of the reach of most fire engine ladders.

If you’re staying in a motel where doors open directly to the outside (rather than a hallway), see if you can get a room overlooking an interior courtyard instead of a parking lot.

Don’t let the front desk attendant publicize your room number. If he or she announces it out loud when giving you your key, ask for a different room.

While you’re at the front desk, ask what phone number you should dial in case of emergency. Is there a direct line to the hotel’s security team…?

Upon arriving at your room, immediately identify a fire escape route. Check the location of the nearest stairwell and/or emergency exit (elevators should be avoided during a fire) and figure out a couple of potential plans for escape in case the hallway is blocked in one direction or another.

Check the locks on the windows (and balcony door, if applicable) as soon as you arrive, and notify the front desk if any are not functioning. It’s a good idea to check these locks again each time you return to the room, as housekeeping may open them and forget to close them again.

During Your Stay

Keep your door locked at all times whenever you’re in your room — including any deadbolts, security chains or swinging metal security locks. Never prop your door open, no matter how briefly.

At night, leave a pair of shoes next to the bed in case you need to leave in a hurry. Keep your room key, wallet and a flashlight close to hand as well.

If someone comes to your door unexpectedly and claims to be hotel staff, call the front desk to make sure the visit was actually authorized. Never open your door to someone until you’re sure of their identity; use the peephole instead.

Protect your valuables by using the hotel safe — or, better yet, leaving them at the front desk while you’re out. Get a written receipt for anything you leave with the front desk and find out whether you’re covered in case of loss. (Many hotels do not accept liability for items left in guestroom safes.) If you’re traveling with a laptop, you may want to consider bringing a security cable to lock it to a piece of furniture. Small locks are also available for suitcases.

When you leave the room, leave the TV or radio on, or put your “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door; both of these tricks will give potential thieves the impression that you’re still there. (You can contact the front desk to arrange a housekeeping visit even if the “Do Not Disturb” sign is up.)

The hotel parking lot and hallways should be well lit. Report any outages to the front desk and ask for a security escort if you feel unsafe.

If you do experience a crime during your stay, don’t simply complain to the hotel — file a police report as well….

Know Your Rights

Generally, hotel and motel owners are required by law to protect guests from any foreseeable harm. For example, should a hotel owner be aware of prior criminal activity on property, they have a duty to take security precautions to protect guests and deter future violence. Should the hotel owner or manager fail in this duty, they may be held civilly liable for any injuries or wrongful deaths which occur as a consequence.

We’ve Recovered Millions for Our Clients…Contact us Now for a Free Consultation.

The Murray Law Firm has extensive and successful experience in representing victims of hotel and motel security negligence and we offer our legal expertise, if desired.  We typically represent our Clients on a contingency agreement, which generally means that no fees or payments are owed until and unless we recover.  Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us via e-mail (click here) or call at 888.842.1616. Consultations are free and confidential.

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Hotel Key CardLocation. Price. Amenities. These are items most travelers look for when selecting a hotel or motel. Requirements that may not make a traveler’s hotel wishlist are: bright lighting; surveillance cameras; 24 hour security; and room key-controlled entry to the property.

A CBS This Morning report warns, “Far too many people let their guard down when traveling, especially when it comes to their hotel.”

Read the full report for “a breakdown of everything you need to know about hotel safety in the U.S.”:

American Hotel Security is Lacking

Although 9/11 was a wakeup call for everybody, most officials in the hotel industry in the U.S. aren’t willing to spend money on security.

Hotels are filled with vulnerabilities: multiple entrances and exits, driveways, underground entries, spacious and busy lobbies, non-guests who eat at the restaurant and come in for conferences and events. But those risks are also the hotels’ livelihood: it’s not in a hotel’s best interest to scare away potential business by employing armed guards, installing metal detectors or X-rays, limiting entrances, or even checking IDs.

In fact, security experts don’t know of ANY hotel in the US that has implemented high-security measures that we see in Asia and the Middle East: metal detectors, explosive vapor devices, barriers in front of the hotel, screening of bags, screening under vehicles, or “hardening” glazing structures of windows and entranceways.

In general, the most an American hotel will do is implement increased security cameras, limit access into the building, require key cards to get to guest room floors, and train staff to be alert to odd behavior. Until recently, even security cameras or CCTV on guest room floors was considered taboo. The measures that have been implemented also help prevent petty crime and assault, so the hotels’ motives for doing so are manifold.

Most U.S. hotels are mid-market products  where you won’t see anything more than cameras for loss prevention and maybe locking perimeter doors. It’s the higher-end hotels that have implemented any significant measures—and much of that is to block out the riff-raff and ensure privacy.

Don’t Worry, Your Personal Information is NOT Stored on Key Cards

In 2003, the Pasadena police department police issued a warning about plastic hotel card keys. According to this message, a local Doubletreehotel had key cards that contained encoded personal information such as your name, a partial home address, the hotel room number, your check out date…and your credit card number. Well, simply put, hotels do not put your personal information on the card. Key cards actually use RFID technology, or a system that generates a code that the lock recognizes, NOT your room number.

According to, what happened was the police had been made aware that a keycard could be wiped clean and then reused by identity thieves to store information, NOT that the hotel had put the information on there. Any blank magnetic card could be used for this purpose. But the  information got released and became so widespread that the Pasadena police had to issue a retraction in 2009: “As of today, detectives have contacted several large hotels and computer companies using plastic card key technology and they assure us that personal information, especially credit card information, is not included on their key cards.”

HOWEVER…Hotel Locks Aren’t as Secure as You Think

A Mozilla developer and security researcher demonstrated the security in one of the most common key card locks in hotels. At the Black Hat Las Vegas security conference in July, Cody Brocious reverse engineered the locks by inserting a small, homemade device into the keycard lock, read the digital key that triggers the lock, and opened it. He explained that it was “stupidly simple” to exploit the locks. Onity locks can be found in more than 4 million hotel rooms around the world.

In September, there was a there was a string of break-ins at a Houston Hyatt in which the thief hacked the lock with a digital tool that triggered the door to open. The hotel itself took measures for a temporary fix by puttying the vulnerable port on the door. Since then Onity has been offering to replace the circuit boards for locks bought after 2005; older models will replace the locks for a fee, or will send a plastic plug to cover the port.

Hotel Safes Aren’t as Safe as You Think

The innkeeper liability laws limit how much the hotel is responsible for items left in your hotel room–even if it’s in the safe. Even worse, they’ll often charge you for the privilege of using that safe. The amount varies by state, but you can usually find the exact amount posted on the back of your hotel room door or in another conspicuous place. You’re better off storing valuables like passports in the front-desk safe. Confirm how much they’re liable for, and a get a written receipt of the items you’ve left there. If you have to leave items in the room, like a laptop, consider storing it in a slashproof bag. Then use a cable lock that holds the zipper shut and secures the bag to a stationery piece of furniture.

That Room with a View Can be Deadly

There’s not a fire department in the country that can easily fight a fire above the eighth floor, so ask for a lower floor.

Find out what kind of fire safety devices are in place. Every hotel should have hard-wired, single-station smoke detectors in each guestroom. Those more than three stories should have an automatic sprinkler system with a head in each room.

Check the US Fire Administration website for a database of fire-safe hotels.

You know the map on the door that show the nearest exits? It’s there for a reason. Then you actually have to find those exits. You should be able to locate at least two exits, in case one is blocked, and count how many doors there are between your room and the exits.

Keep your room key and a small flashlight in your shoes by your bed, in case you have to make a quick escape. Bottom line: a hotel fire is serious business, but there are steps you can take to make sure you’re as prepared as possible.

We’ve Recovered Millions for Our Clients…Contact us Now for a Free Consultation.

The Murray Law Firm has extensive and successful experience in representing victims of hotel and motel security negligence and we offer our legal expertise, if desired.  We typically represent our Clients on a contingency agreement, which generally means that no fees or payments are owed until and unless we recover.  Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us via e-mail (click here) or call at 888.842.1616. Consultations are free and confidential.

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HotelOpenDoorThe American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) reminds us, it is all too easy for a hotel vacation or business trip to turn to tragedy. While hotel and motel security begins with the owner and management, these basic guest safety guidelines may reduce guests’ risk of becoming a victim of theft or assault:

Guest Safety Tips

  1. Don’t answer the door in a hotel or motel room without verifying who it is. If a person claims to be an employee, call the front desk and ask if someone from their staff is supposed to have access to your room and for what purpose.
  2. Keep your room key with you at all times and don’t needlessly display it in public. Should you misplace it, please notify the front desk immediately.
  3. Close the door securely whenever you are in your room and use all of the locking devices provided.
  4. Check to see that any sliding glass doors or windows and any connecting room doors are locked.
  5. Don’t invite strangers to your room.
  6. Do not draw attention to yourself by displaying large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry.
  7. Place all valuables in the in-room safe or safe deposit box.
  8. When returning to your hotel or motel late in the evening, be aware of your surroundings, stay in well-lighted areas, and use the main entrance.
  9. Take a few moments and locate the nearest exit that may be used in the event of an emergency.
  10. If you see any suspicious activity, notify the hotel operator or a staff member.

Read the full AHLA safety guidelines.

Selecting a Safe Hotel or Motel

The Murray Law Firm represents victims of hotel and motel violence and security negligence. We urge guests to look for the following security measures and access controls when selecting a hotel or motel:

  • Bright lighting in all parking areas, outdoor walkways, indoor hallways, and common areas.
  • Surveillance cameras and 24-hour security patrols.
  • Building access controls, such as an entry gate, security guard, guest card controlled entry to all buildings and common areas.
  • Hotel room access controls, such as a deadbolt lock, a door viewer, a steel frame door, window locks, and a security bar for any sliding patio doors.
  • Call the local police department if you’d like to check on crime reports for a particular property.

Hotel and motel owners and managers are required by law to provide a safe premises for all guests legally on their property and to prevent foreseeable third-party criminal attacks, such as rapes, shootings, assaults, or robberies. For example, should a proprietor have reason to anticipate a criminal act based on knowledge of a security lapse or a previous crime on or near property, he or she then has a duty to exercise ordinary care to deter such crime and protect those legally on their premises from harm.

We Fight for Victims of Hotel and Motel Security Negligence…Contact us Now for a Free Consultation.

The Murray Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars for victims of hotel violence and security negligence, and we offer our legal assistance if desired.  We represent our Clients on a contingency agreement, which generally means that no fees or payments are owed until and unless we recover. Anyone seeking further information or legal representation is encouraged to contact us via e-mail (click here) or by telephone at 888.842.1616. Consultations are free and confidential.

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