Sex toys and stuffed animals were among the most unusual objects targeted by light-fingered hotel guests in the UK this year, according to research.
Light fittings, televisions and bed linen have also been stolen from British establishments in 2009, proving that toiletries and towels are not the only items coveted by some hotel guests.
Staff at Birmingham's Hotel du Vin revealed how one inebriated would-be thief was caught attempting to remove the stuffed head of a wild boar, which had previously been mounted in the billiard room.
“He was rather embarrassed and worse-for-wear,” said Adam Thompson, a manager at the hotel. “A few weeks later some of his friends came back and bought the object from us as a wedding present for him – we donated the money to charity.”
The Residence in Bath, formerly a boutique hotel and now self-catering apartments, reported another unusual item that often went missing.
“Beyond the usual things, such as shampoos and bath towels, the most frequently stolen items were our sex toys,” said a member of staff.
Staff at another hotel in Bath recalled that a guest had stolen one of the light fittings in the floor, while one former Forte Posthouse hotel reported that a couple had stolen all the almost the entire contents of their room, including the carpet, curtains, kettle, bedding and even the toilet seat. They had allegedly parked their car underneath the room's ground floor window and passed the items through.
Even the glamour-free world of Travelodge is not immune to passing kleptomaniacs. A survey by the budget hotel chain revealed that their towels, drinking glasses, bathrobes and ornaments are their most frequently stolen objects.
In a poll carried out by London's Telegraph, 37 per cent of respondents admitted having taken something from their hotel room.
Weirdest things stolen from hotel rooms
Colin Bennett, a former general manager for the Starwood Hotel Group, recalled the most brazen theft he encountered during nearly 20 years in the business: "As soon as I walked into the lobby of one hotel," he said, "I immediately realised something was missing - but I couldn't put my finger on it. It transpired that three people had strolled into reception, dressed in overalls, and had wheeled the grand piano out of the hotel and down the street, never to be seen again."
Other seemingly immovable objects Bennett remembered being taken included overhead projectors and innumerable televisions.
"Looking back over the CCTV footage, we would see a guest walk through a busy reception struggling under the weight of a television set, yet no one would bat an eyelid," he said.
At the Hotel du Vin in Birmingham, one tired and emotional guest was caught trying to pilfer a mounted boar's head from the hotel's billiard room. Some weeks later, friends of the embarrassed would-be thief purchased the stuffed head from the hotel to present to him as a wedding gift.
The Residence in Bath, once offered kinky accessories - at a price - to adventurous travellers. These would often get nicked. "I would call them up to explain that they had been caught. A rather long silence would inevitably follow," a staff member said.
The glamour-free world of Travelodge - where televisions and hairdryers are often nailed to the wall for safe keeping - is not immune to passing kleptomaniacs. A survey by the no-frills hotel chain found that thousands of Britons have made off with sections of carpet, light fittings, mirrors and even curtains.
At the Franklin Hotel in Knightsbridge, one guest decided to unscrew the number from their door. "We only noticed it had gone missing when the next guest was found wandering up and down the corridor looking for his room," general manager Karen Marchant was reported to have said.
A regular guest at the same hotel helped himself to an entire dinner service - one piece at a time - over a period of several months.
Two busts are said to have disappeared from outside the entrance to the Chesterfield Hotel in Mayfair. They were returned the following morning in the back of a black cab.
At the Sheraton Park Tower, management are said to frequently spend a fortune on fresh flowers each week to replace those that go missing.
According to a survey by Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine, other items to have been relieved from British hotels include a medieval sword, door hinges and a 4ft wooden bear.
One incident even saw a hotel owner's pet dog stolen, according to the survey.
Other thefts reported over the years include chandeliers (taken from Hong Kong's Shangri-La), an entire minibar (the old Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur), showerheads (the old Crowne Plaza Bangkok) and a $300,000 Andy Warhol artwork (Hong Kong's W Hotel).
Thieves across in the US have really upped the ante when it comes to audacious appropriation. One gentleman staying at the famous Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel - which featured in the film Pretty Woman - is alleged to have taken the entire marble fireplace.
Finally, and perhaps most barefaced of all, a couple staying at an American Holiday Inn specifically requested a room near the car park. They then proceeded to empty the entire contents of said room (bed, furniture, the lot) into their handily-parked U-Haul.
The Telegraph, London