The One Trick You Should NEVER Do At A Hotel

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I stay in hotels frequently that have the “swing bar door guard” locks that allow a door to be opened a few inches, but not entirely – unless the person in the room releases the bar.  I used to think that one of the best tricks of these locks is that I could flip the lock and the door would be propped open by the lock while I made a quick trip to the ice machine.Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 2.12.50 PMBut then this happened to a Facebook acquaintance of mine while she was staying at a hotel in San Jose, California. Her purse (which contained her wallet, passport, prescription medication and make up) was stolen along with her laptop and cell phone. So. How did it happen? She said:

“He got into my room because my dumb ass flipped the latch so the door wouldn’t close when I went to get ice! I used to do that all the time, but NEVER again! The whole thing scared me to death!”

She went on to remark:

“I haven’t done it since and never will again, and yes, it was extremely disturbing and traumatic. I was gone such a short amount of time, what if he’d been in my room when i got back? Who knows what would have happened?”

Since then she has reported that they caught and arrested the guy, and the guy even had her passport and checkbook on him at the time of the arrest.

Hopefully she used an American Express card to purchase some of these expensive items that were stolen. I always use my Amex card for larger purchases because of their excellent protections. Amex purchase protection:

Purchase Protection provides coverage for Your purchases for ninety (90) days from the date of purchase when You charge any portion of the price of the purchased item to Your Account. You will be reimbursed only for the amount charged to Your Account. (See Description of Benefits section.)

For example, if she had used the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express to purchase any of these items in the last 90 days, they would be covered by Amex.


We will pay You the expense charged to Your Account up to $1,000 for any one Covered Incident and up to $50,000 for all Covered Incidents during a calendar year. Purchase Protection provides benefits, for ninety (90) days from the date of purchase, if a Covered Incident occurs with respect to property You purchased and charged to Your Account. Our benefit payment will not include shipping and handling expenses or installation, assembly, professional advice, maintenance or other service charges or any product rebates, discounts or money received from lowest price comparison programs that reduced the original cost of the property.

More examples cards that have Purchase Protection:

Bottom Line:

Although it’s tempting to leave your room for “just a minute” without your key, this story stays in the back of my mind and it has changed my behavior. Scary stuff.  Travel safe!


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a close up of a bed

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

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  1. johnny33 says “Wow! How stupid can you be”

    How judgmental can you be?!?

    So what if I want to leave the room door ajar like this? If I understand the risk and am willing to take it, why would anyone else care?

    By the way, its been many years since I’ve locked my house doors…

  2. How stupid can you be? It’s the same when you sit with your shoes on on the couch. Oh dirtyyyyy. Come on… Is this adults or kids???

  3. Well you are stupid if you do this, and lazy too. You deserve what you get for lazy shortcuts.

  4. The swing board locks can be opened easily from outside the room even when latched. You just need a do not disturb door hanger or a sturdy brochure. So if someone wants in your room while you are there and has a pass key they can get in.

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