Should We Confront The Bellman About Stealing Our Camera?

One our readers was staying at a hotel and the friendly bellhop brought his luggage, including his camera case, up to his room, while he parked the car. When our reader got to the room, the camera was gone.

Our reader writes:

My family is staying at [redacted] casino resort. When we checked in we think the bellman stole our camera. Should we accuse him with hotel security or confront him directly?

It’s a nice -Canon S5SI. We are ABSOLUTELY SURE it was in our bag but it disappeared. The bag was ONLY out of our sight when the bellman took our bags to the room, without waiting for me while I parked the car. I asked him to wait for me- it only takes 3 minutes to park the car and come back.

What kind of bellman doesn’t wait for the guest, for him to get his tip? What should we do now?

I would think the thing here to do is to complain to management and/or file a police report. Also, is there any way to make sure you actually packed the camera in the case? I recall a Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s dad accused the doctor of stealing his wallet when it was really left behind on his dresser between some couch coushins…

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. marlathetourist says:

    The wallet was in the cushions of the couch at Jerry’s apartment, and was found several episodes later.

  2. celeb8 says:

    Since “ABSOLUTELY SURE” was in all caps, it must be true. If it’s a sure thing, then talk to hotel management right away. Fast, before he can stash it.

  3. Muddie says:

    I love that the first comment isn’t to talk about the subject proposed, but to correct the Seinfeld reference.

    They should call the police and file a report. Let the police confront the bellman. Anything else is just setting you up for failure.

  4. photoguy622 says:

    It’s a Canon S5 IS… sorry but I have to be anal about that. It’s the camera freak in me!

  5. KillerBee says:

    I had a similar situation involving a rental car and a cell phone. Since I was trying to catch a flight, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting the cops to show up. If I had, a police report definitely would have been filed. My advice is to talk to management and security first. Tell them you are going to file a police report. The most important thing is to make sure you stay calm and make sure you have your facts straight. If you are sure the camera was there, offer some sort of proof or an good explanation as to how you can be certain (“I took a picture right outside the hotel, put it in the case, and handed it to the bellhop”, for example)
    The hotel doesn’t like their employees being accused of theft any more than you would like your child to be accused of the same thing. Expect them to give the bellhop the benefit of the doubt, especially if he’s never been accused of theft before. Let the cops ask the questions. They are the professionals, and are usually pretty good at getting the truth out of petty criminals. At least the ones on TV are.

  6. luftmenschPhil says:

    The naive optimist in me says the camera body slipped out of the incompletely zippered pouch.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    YYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. ScarletsWalk says:

    Casinos have cameras everywhere. So if the camera bag was a separate bag, as opposed to being packed in something bigger, it would be visible on the cameras. Unless there was video of him being really obvious about removing it from the room, it still might not be enough, but it’s an idea.

    • Wrathernaut says:

      Not in the rooms, where presumably, the theft took place.

      • cosmic.charlie says:

        Yeah but you would have cameras that show the guy going into the room with the bags and then coming out with a somewhat large bulge under his shirt, going directly to the secret drop point and then returning to his post where the shirt returns to normal.

  9. NightSteel says:

    You might consult the establishment’s manager before going to the police. Being a casino, I’d say they’re more likely to have video (and more likely to have a system that allows for the easy review of said video). Don’t be accusatory, because mixups do happen, but don’t let the manager blow you off, either. And if they don’t respond satisfactorily, then definitely go to the cops.

    • danmac says:

      This is a very level-headed, logical suggestion…I wholeheartedly approve of this message.

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      I absolutely agree. The management will likely be more than receptive and helpful. And, if they are not, then you can escalate to the police.

      Also, be 100% sure you didn’t bring the camera. You have to live with yourself if you accuse someone of theft and it’s just forgetfulness on your part.

    • MrAgen10 says:

      Totally agree. Very logical and non-confrontational.

  10. quijote says:

    There was also the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry thought that the laundromat employee stole cash out of his laundry bag, only to discover later that it hadn’t been stolen–after Kramer sabotaged one of the washing machines by putting cement mix in it.

  11. GrahamPit? says:

    Report it to your home-owners insurance.

    • tiatrack says:

      Good luck with that. I have that camera, and it’s not super expensive. With 99% of policies, the deductible is more than the cost of the camera by far.

  12. DrRamblings says:

    Casinos have cameras EVERYWHERE. Ask for the manager on duty and see what s/he says. Definitely stay calm and don’t be accusatory, but instead be concerned. If there is a problem with the employee, the manager would want to know. If there is not a problem, at least they checked it out.

  13. BenjimusPrime says:

    Tough situation, because any accusation means that likely the thief will ditch the camera. If you tell the manager that you are sure that one of their staff took it, but are willing to forgo a police report if you get the camera back. Even suggest that the manager can send out an email and the thief can retain their anonymity, and this way you don’t have to confront an individual with accusations (false or true). Even better,tell em you have one of these:
    http://www.amazon.com/Eye-Fi-Share-Memory-EYE-FI-2GB-VERSION/dp/B000X27XDC
    and that you already have evidence of the thief. Its a bluff,but you have nothing to lose.

  14. knoxblox says:

    This reminds me of a time when I was young and foolish. It involved my favorite pot pipe and a rental car, so I couldn’t involve the authorities. :(

  15. smarmyjones goes cattywampus says:

    Why did the OP feel the need to contact Consumerist first instead of speaking to the manager or calling police? This is reminding me about the guy in the Taxi story who updated his Twitter account before anything else. From Ben’s writing it appears this happened in the past, so what did they do about it?

  16. wickedpixel says:

    Ben, make sure we get an update on this story. Don’t leave us hanging!

  17. BrownEyes says:

    This is a no-brainer. Instead of writing The Consumerist, he should be complaining loudly to hotel management and police. The time has past to catch the thief red handed.

  18. Enriquez the Water Bottle says:

    You can complain to management, but it may not do much. My iPod went missing a few years ago under similar circumstances. I called the hotel, and told them the situation. They said they’d investigate, and get back to me. They never called me back, so I called them back. They said, “Nope, no one said they found it.”

    So, yeah.

  19. bosshogVSdukes says:

    I would suggest talking to mgt and the police about reviewing the video footage together. I doubt they will allow you to watch it yourself, but would allow a independent 3rd party, like a cop, to review the footage. There is a good chance the security cameras caught the bellhop lifting a larger camera like the IS on the video, if in fact he did steal it. An accusation like this would most likely cost the man his job. If you confront him directly before speaking with mgt I would think an honest man would suggest reviewing the footage to prove he is innocent.

  20. Gulliver says:

    1. Be 100% absolutely positive it is not in the car, in the luggage or you had it right before the bellman.
    2. Talk to the manager. Tell them, you are not sure if an employee or another hotel guest may have stolen your camera and would like to have their security look at the video (trust me a casino has it)
    3. If the manager refuses tell them you will need to contact the local police AND gaming commission (gaming commission is much more important to them)
    4. Research the value of the item, based on depreciated value. Tell the manager, the camera was $500, and you bought it 2 years ago and should be worth about say $300 (made up numbers, but check on ebay or craigslist)
    5. If nothing is found on the video, you may be SOL, but if you have been reasonable and calm through it all a good hotel manager may comp you a room based on the value of the camera. They want you staying in the building to gamble, and any negative feedback hurts them.
    6. If nothing else works, write their corporate office and explain the situation
    7. Finally, if it was a mistake on your part, be prepared to man up and apologize. Having worked hospitality before I have had guests make mistakes and make employees fear losing their jobs for nothing, while it was something that fell out in the car, or ended up out of its case under a bed.

    I must say one other thing. Bellman in casinos tend to make VERY good money. Stealing a camera is not as valuable as their job to most of them. Everybody who works in a casino knows EVERYTHING they do is on video. A guy who can make $200-$500 a day is not in the market to steal cameras at the risk of losing his job. There are other people in the chain of custody I would be more concerned about.

  21. milty456 says:

    1. You know how many times I was ABSOLUTELY SURE i did something, then found out i didn’t.
    2. Doesn’t anyone put locks on their bags? I always do.
    3. Follow normal procedure. Ask hotel manager; file police report.

    • Blueberry Scone says:

      This! This is totally me. In the OP’s shoes, I’d turn every room in the house upside-down before making an accusation. I’ve had too many instances of “I could have sworn I packed X” – then realized I didn’t.

  22. Im Just Saying says:

    Not that it isn’t worth trying, but the casino security cameras probably wont be too useful. Firstly keep in mind that they’re there to protect the casino and so are focused on those assets. Secondly, if a theft did occur it most likely happened in the room itself where there are no cameras at all.

    • squirrel says:

      Thay you know of

      • Im Just Saying says:

        You’re right. They want you to know about the cameras that could catch cheaters and theives and such, so that you can try to get around their system, but not the ones that let them see my hairy ass. +1 million internets to you.

  23. Froggmann says:

    “Casino resort” This place has more cameras than you would expect. Request that management review the tapes.

  24. ldavis480 says:

    Could this bellhop be a thief? Of course, he could be completely guilty. But he could easily be innocent. So many things could’ve happened between the time you lost and regained line-of-sight to your baggage. As much as you are tempted to you must consider the bellhop innocent until he is found guilty. Now that doesn’t mean he might not have been careless with your bags. For instance, he could’ve been distracted while taking your bags to your room — perhaps while assisting another guest at the hotel and leaving your bags in the hall out of his sight. In the end you should do what others in this article have advised: File a police report and let the police do the interrogations. In the end it’s quite possible that others have had thefts at this hotel and the perp might just be setting himself up for a sting.

    I’m sorry to say however the likelihood that you will ever see your camera again are probably pretty poor.

  25. mistashizzle says:

    I was staying at a hotel in Texas and we checked gun cases in with the hotel security. When we left the hotel they helpfully offered to load the cases into our car for us. It wasn’t until we made it to the airport we realized one of the guns was no longer in the case. It was a fairly expensive shotgun and we contacted the hotel and let them know and filed a police report. The hotel insurance ended up paying for a replacement.

  26. Gizmosmonster says:

    Make sure you file a police report! We trusted a Kimpton hotel manager in San Francisco after she swore that they would handle everything (we were running to the airport) including contacting the police. She kept telling us that it would be ok- that the hotel’s insurance would cover our loss.

    What had happened- Several items had vanished from our room the day before we left SF. I returned to our room to find it standing open with a housekeeping cart nearby, but nobody on the floor or in our room from the housekeeping staff.

    Anyway, we never even got an apology from the hotel after they lost the paperwork, and then had their insurance person call me months later to tell me she handled most the the chain’s theft cases, and that she would go through the motions, but that we would not get reimbursed a dime. We travel quite a bit, but tend to avoid Kimpton Hotels now after this experience.

  27. Big Mama Pain says:

    So…the bellhop took your luggage ahead of you and…put it in the hallway? Couldn’t someone else have swiped the camera bag? I am confused about how long they were apart from the luggage and where it ended up.

  28. chocolate1234 says:

    One of my friends had her wallet stolen in vegas at a coffee shop in a casino. She left it on the counter after purchasing her coffee, and went back a minute or two later when she realized she left it there. She’s pretty certain it was the employees who took it, and not another customer since the place hadn’t been busy. The casino refused to look into the video for her. The guy needs to file a police report, because he’s *probably* not going to get anywhere with the actual casino.

  29. drburk says:

    Went on a school trip (ok it was for marching band) once plane full of people (literally the bus picked us up on the tarmac), since we arrived at the hotel early and needed to rehearse they locked our luggage into a conference room. During our outdoor rehearsal someone came through and stole money, CD players (yes, it was back then), CD’s (do you remember those), money, clothes (mostly shoes) a few back up instruments and a few suitcases (one of which was emptied out and the contents left in a pile). It was fairly easily a luggage cart or two full of junk. The hotel didn’t bother investigating they just started writing checks to cover the costs. The band got a big fat check to cover all our rooms, our parents were happy when the cost of our trip to Disney was slashed down to the price of an airline ticket.

    • oldsewnsew says:

      My son left his iPod on a nightstand in a hotel outside of Ft. Lauderdale. When he returned to the room, the iPod was gone. We tore the room apart looking for it, tore the car apart looking for it, not to be found. I reported the incident to the front desk where I received pretty much just a shrug. After we checked out, I went back up to the room to give it one more look around and found a guy stripping the sheets. I went back down to the manager’s desk and he told me that it was odd that someone was preparing the room so soon after we checked out. Moral of the story – the front desk will give the hotel staff the benefit of the doubt. My son saved up his money and bought a new iPod a few months later.

  30. humphrmi says:

    The casino cameras are intended to watch the play area and the money, and there are plenty of places that casinos consider “low value” where there are not cameras. A porter who has experience will know where the dead areas are, and would have taken the camera there (if he, in fact did it.) Don’t expect too much from the security tapes, if you get to see them at all. They’ll tell the police to get a warrant, the police will weigh pursuing a warrant vs. the value of the camera, and probably not bother.

    Still, as other said – talk to the management, delicately and politely. Worst case, get a police report and file an insurance claim.

  31. DH405 says:

    Heh, speaking of Seinfeld and stolen cameras in hotels.. I stayed at Caesar’s in Vegas a few years back, along with some friends. When a friend of mine got to his room one evening, there was a gift bag with a nice digital camera. A Canon, I think. The card in the bag said that it was a gift from Seinfeld, and thanked my friend for helping Jerry remain the “King of His Domain.”

    Weirdest thing. None of us had any run-ins with Jerry or the crew to his show the whole time we were there. *shrug*

  32. whythefuckwasibanned says:

    seriously why the fuck was my old account jcota banned. seriously i haven’t posted any comment that deserved that crap. FUCK whoever banned my old account.

  33. Doubts42 says:

    As a front desk supervisor I got 3 to 5 complaints a month that an employee was stealing from someone.
    95% of them were either fraud or mistakes.
    A well known sci fi actor (who once lost a spaceship in a game of Sabaac) Threw a fit in my hotel lobby because our housekeepers had “stolen” his gold lighter. After 4 hours of complaints and accusations he finally allowed myself and my manager into his room where the lighter was found under the bed.

    My point is that the hotel is going to give benefit of the doubt to an employee.

  34. SuburbNick says:

    You need a pretty bulletproof story to get anywhere with this. Years ago, I had checked into a very high end hotel and valeted my car which was then parked in a secure parking garage under the hotel. Only authorized employees had access to the garage and they had to swipe in and out both as a pedestrian and in a car.

    Upon retrieving my car the next morning, the faceplate of my Alpine stereo was missing. I know I didn’t take it with me to the room (I should have) but then I wondered why the valet would bother taking it because the faceplates were coded to only work with that head unit so as far as I know, it would be worthless to anyone. Either, way, after about a week of calling the GM of the hotel (who was a dismissive jerk) and the head of security (who told me they had been having issues like this for a while and he was on my side) I finally got them to pay for the replacement. I also had confronted the valet, with the head of security there, in front of other customers hoping he would take a swing at me or something. It was a nice scene.

    I worked as a valet and I alway tip the guy who parks and the guy who retrieves so it wasn’t a matter of spite. The irritating fact of the whole ordeal is that I tipped the parking valet a five spot and he still ripped me off.

    If the bellman did steal your camera, he has it down to a science and without video proof or eye witness proof, its your word against theirs – and you are not even sure it was in there when you got to the hotel. Best you can hope for is a good faith payout, but hotels get scammed like this all the time and are very reluctant to pay on these claims.

  35. sufreak says:

    Why are you writing a letter. If you’re absolutely sure, contact management right away.

  36. Dean says:

    No, file a complaint. There is no certainty that the bellman was the thief, and I’m always against blame-games unless the culprit is caught in the act or smth.

  37. MrsLopsided says:

    “One our readers WAS staying at a hotel…”

    Barndoor.
    Horse.

  38. NarcolepticGirl says:

    How long ago was this? What happened?

  39. tweeder82o says:

    perhaps take a picture of the items missing and this bellman?

  40. phallusu says:

    definitely report the ‘loss’ to management – do you have proof of owning such a camera? they will ask. start with ‘i think the bellman lost or dropped the camera on the way to the room’ – you don’t have to accuse theft – at this point, it really is just lost and you are trying to locate it. ask them to review surveillance (many places include elevator cam surveillance) or is there a ‘lost & found’ – it is not unusual for people to leave things at a hotel mistakenly. point out you asked bellman to wait to avoid such confusion, loss, or inconvenience. if nothing else-they will probably ask the employee if he remembers the property and whether or not it was there when he left the room (you may find out it is not the first incident either if you contact the police). if they don’t cooperate-you should call/contact their management office (corporate) and inform the local and hq you intend to file a stolen property report with the local police as they are claiming it is not lost – so obviously, someone removed your property while onsite at their business still creates a liability for them.

  41. faea says:

    People have a habit of overreacting. From this story there are so many possibiliites. What if the bag fell off, and since it was smaller the bellman didn’t see. it could be sitting down in the hotel’s lost and found. Or someone randomly came by and just picked up a bag like a theif. Starting any conversation with ‘the bellman took my stuff’ is not going to get alot of help. Asking for help over a missing bag will get staff moving much faster and more willing to do things.

    But I can say one thing. If the police show up before management is even notified the op may be looking for a new place to stay without a refund.

  42. Tigerantilles says:

    I’d say talk to the hotel manager. If they won’t get your camera back, file a police report.

  43. My Head Hurts says:

    >What kind of bellman doesn’t wait for the guest, for him to get his tip?

    The kind that has already gotten their tip.