How Safe Is Your Hotel?

hotel securityABC News Photo Illustration

As Bill Stanton threw an iPod, laptop and camera into a bag, said goodbye to the maid cleaning the hotel room and strolled toward the exit, only one thing was wrong: none of the possessions were his.

Stanton boldly robbed the most valuable things from someone else's hotel room in broad daylight. Fortunately for the real owner -- a "Good Morning America" producer -- Stanton, a security expert, pulled off the caper as part of a "GMA" experiment to test hotel security.

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But the implications for the ease with which he was able to calmly walk away with nearly anything he liked are very real, Stanton said.

Accomodation Vs. Safety

Stanton ran his test at two Atlanta area hotels.

First he followed a "GMA" producer who was posing as a guest into a luxurious hotel room. Stanton followed the guest to the room and then waited until it was empty.

When it was, Stanton approached a cleaning lady who was down the hall and told her he was the guest in the empty room and he needed it cleaned immediately. The cleaning lady obliged and, while she began cleaning, Stanton brazenly walked in the room, telling her he forgot some things.

While she worked, he made himself at home in the room, nabbing an extra key that was left behind and even calling the front desk, hoping that when they answered, the operator would greet Stanton with the last name of the real guest.

Then he grabbed the laptop, iPod and a camera that "GMA" placed in the room to capture his mock robbery, and sauntered out the door.

To complete the getaway, Stanton made a bold move: He stole the rental car the room's owner likely picked up. Though he did not have a valet ticket, he was able to provide the guest's last name, the hotel room number and the room key.

That was enough to get the valet to bring around a red Mustang. With a simple "thank you," Stanton was off in a stolen car with all the guest's belongings -- no questions asked.

Stanton Targets Checked Bags

For the next phase of the experiment, Stanton took aim at a more moderately priced hotel nearby. This time, he had a more creative plan.

Once inside the hotel, Stanton ducked into a stairwell near a room registered to another "GMA" producer. There, he changed into a bathrobe and poured a bottle of water over his head. Moments later, he wandered into the hallway like a guest who inadvertently locked himself out of the room right after a shower.

When a nearby employee spotted him, she came over and opened the door for him without questioning his story at all.

Later, Stanton decided to test the same hotel's security on checked bags. A female "GMA" producer gave the hotel a bag to hold and then, less than 10 minutes later, Stanton attempted to steal it.

Telling the bellman he was with the woman and they had to move, Stanton told the bellman that he didn't have the ticket for the bag because it was with the woman. The bellman relayed this message to the front desk.

"We just dropped a bag off," Stanton told the employees at the desk. "We switched flights." Moments later, they handed the bag over and Stanton rolled the bag out of the hotel.

Hotels Respond to Report

In response to the "GMA" report, both hotels issued statements regarding their security policies.

The first hotel said that it holds "safety, comfort and well-being of [its] guests and employees as [its] top priority.

"The management team at the hotel sets stringent safety and security standards that mandate that all employees must request and verify a guest's photo identification before granting access to guest rooms," the statement said. "We regularly conduct security training sessions for our staff, and the housekeeper and valet in this instance made independent decisions without following policy."

Similarly, the second hotel issued a statement that emphasized the focus on guests' safety and security and said it regularly conducts "training and evaluations to ensure compliance with our high safety and security standards.

"We are conducting a thorough investigation and will take any and all necessary procedural and/or disciplinary action," it said.