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Hotel theft -- what to do?

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How do you handle it when you think something's been stolen from you in your hotel room?

When I was packing to leave, I discovered a small cassette-player was missing. I last remembered seeing it when I put it back in my carry-on when getting off the plane, but I hadn't used it since, so I was reasonably certain I had it when I checked in to the hotel.

Yes, I was stupid to leave it in the bag in my room, but I guess I thought no one left in the world uses cassette players.

In any case, I went to the front desk and reported it missing. They wanted me to call security, which I went back up to my room to do. Security said no such thing had been turned in to lost and found and said that if I wanted to file a claim, I had to come down to their office. I had 5 minutes to make the airport shuttle and so I let it go. I imagine I could have written a letter once I got home, but it seemed pointless by then, for something I couldn't prove was stolen and something that wasn't all that costly to replace.

I couldn't decide whether to leave a tip for the maid -- feeling she was first "suspect" but also fearing that I was making an unfair assumption. Someone had also come in to fix a drippy shower head, and all kinds of people have access to hotel rooms. And there was always the possibility that it had gotten lost, dropped, or stolen somewhere else.

But I felt pretty helpless and I also felt that the hotel did not want to make it easy to investigate or be very helpful.

Question: how many of you have been ripped off in a hotel -- for anything, no matter how small? And what -- if anything -- did you do? What _can_ you do that would make any difference? Seems to me, you're probably out of luck most of the time.

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