A cleaner makes up the bed at a Scandic Grand Central room. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT.

Swedes fess up to hotel thefts

"Stealing toilet brushes - that's kind of nasty"
3:05 min

Soaps, towels, lamps and toilet brushes are some of the things that could disappear from hotel rooms where Swedes stay, a new survey suggests.

Have you ever come back from a holiday or a business trip with a “free” souvenir in your bag - something that you just could not resist taking from your hotel room? If so, you are not alone. It turns out that more than one in two Swedes - 54 percent to be precise - have at least once in their lives stolen something from a hotel.

Travelsite Skyscanner asked 1,000 Swedes whether they ever grabbed something from hotels without asking. The survey reveals a streak of kleptomania among Swedes.

Most take small things like shampoos or sewing kits, but others confess to walking out with everything from clothes hangers and china to paintings and even televisions.

Speaking to Swedish Radio, Stockholmers Madeleine and Nora confess to having taken small things, like a soap, a pen or a toothbrush from hotels. But they would not take big things, they say.

The Skyscanner survey results came as no surprise to Lars Sandberg, who has worked in hotels for two decades and is now the director of Scandic Grand Central in Stockholm.

"It's common that people take small things, like towels, bath mats or beauty products," Sandberg says, adding that the strangest thing he has experienced is when he realised that a hotel guest had dismounted and stolen a flat-screen TV.

"I've also seen toilet brushes disappear and that's kind of nasty, I think. Most things that are loose in a room can vanish," says Sandberg.

Sandberg also told Swedish media that, in the past, ashtrays were a hot item. But now, with rooms being smokefree, that's not a problem anymore.

Hair and skin care products top the list of most common items taken from hotel rooms, followed by towels and sewing kits on a shared second spot.

But if a guest takes plastic bottles with shampoos and body lotions, that does not classify as theft since those are free products that hotels count on being used up and disposed of.

Taking a towel, though, does count as theft and if you bring one back home with you, you could end up getting charged for it after checking out from the hotel, says Sandberg.

So, do Swedes feel guilty or regretful about their holiday thefts? Well, while 54 percent of survey respondents said they have taken hotel souvenirs, seven in 10 also said they think it is morally wrong to steal from hotels.

Madeleine and Nora, who confessed to taking small items like soaps from hotel rooms, say that far from everything is up for grabs. Big things like bath mats, pillows or television sets are not OK to take home, they say.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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