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Warning of theft at the Sheraton Towers/Chicago

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Feb 23rd, 2007, 04:56 AM
  #1
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Warning of theft at the Sheraton Towers/Chicago

I meant to post this upon my return from a conference that I assisted with the 1st wk of Feb at the Sheraton. I was warned by one of the banquet staff that there is a couple, man & woman, who have been disguising themselves as meeting attendees, entering the meeting rooms, then taking off with purses, briefcases, etcc..

It happened the 1st 15 mins of our first meeting and again on the last day during the last meeting of our event.

The management did not warn us about this - which I feel they should have during our pre-con (meeting w/hotel staff prior to the event).

Please keep in mind that as a meeting planner I stay in dozens of hotels throughout the year and I realize this can happen at any time.....however, this particular couple have been doing this for quite awhile at this hotel and for reasons unknown, they have not been able to catch them.

Hopefully this will help anyone that will be attending a meeting at this hotel.
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Feb 23rd, 2007, 05:50 AM
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Thefts can be a big problem at conferences. Many people let their guard down, thinking they're with "their own kind" who wouldn't steal from them. Even if that were true, it's not that hard for strangers to find a way to get in to many conferences, disguised as attendees, convention center or hotel staff, union guys, whatever.
A while back, several booths at McCormick place were robbed during a medical conference. Most of the smaller booths had a little curtain area behind them where the exhibitors could put their coats, etc. Unfortunately, many also chose to put their purses, briefcases, cameras, laptops, and so on there as well. A few people pretending to be electrical workers (wearing "uniforms" and fake worker badges) said they had to check some wiring. They quickly rifled through the coats and bags, stealing wallets and small electronic items. Made quite a score, from what I heard. A couple people I knew were nailed.

When a conference is at its busiest, it's easy for people to become distracted and stop watching carefully over their possessions. In a way, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

When I'm attending a conference, I always carry a Mother Ship and a shuttle. The Mother Ship is my convention bag that holds the program, press kits, and the usual meeting detritus. The shuttle (which fits into the Mother Ship) is a snall purse with long straps that I can pull out and wear for going to lunch, the rest rooms or errands. Even if I've parked the Mother Ship in a supposedly secure area, I never leave anything of any value in it when it's not in my possession.

Thanks for the heads up. Always a good reminder for business travelers.
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Feb 23rd, 2007, 06:34 AM
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cfnt, I would be PISSED!!

As a meeting planner, that is the first thing you should have been told about at the precon so you could warn your attendees.
 
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Feb 23rd, 2007, 07:05 AM
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This seems so silly. They can't catch these people? How about starting with making a general announcement to everyone at the conference that this is a problem. Cut off the supply and the theft will stop. Duh?

I'd be very angry that they knew this is a problem and yet they don't tell you about it.
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Feb 23rd, 2007, 10:51 AM
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An interesting note - the hotel security took care of everything and would not assist one of the attendees with contacting the police - she had to do it herself. I believe that hotels try to keep things hush-hush so that it doesn't hurt their business.

And yes, I also found it interesting that the banquet captain who told me prior to the meeting starting was SHOCKED that my CSM did not alert me.

A similar situation happened at The Borgata in Atlantic City and they would not even let the police in the hotel to investigate ~ we had to have the police meet us outside of the hotel to fill out a report!
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