Bad News, Folks: Hotels Can Now Track Those Towels You Steal

Towels are among the most-stolen items in hotels, according to the Telegraph. And though that’s no real surprise (we’ve all done it), perhaps this may come as a shock: Hotels can now tell when you’ve stolen a towel.

Linen Technology Tracking, a Miami-based company, recently patented a tiny radio-frequency tracking device designed to keep real-time inventory of frequently misplaced or stolen goods. The chip, which is embedded into linen, lets hotels know where their towels, robes, and bedsheets are at all times.

So far, three hotels in New York, Miami, and Honolulu now use Linen Trackers, revealed William Serbin, the company’s executive Vice President.

“After being in the industry for many years, I understand the challenges hotels face in monitoring linen,” he said. “Any given month, they can lose 5 to 20 percent of towels, sheets and robes. That gets expensive with the rising cost of cotton.”

The devices send signals to antennae at the hotel’s entrance or exit, letting hotel authorities know if a linen has left the building, though they do not pinpoint the exact coordinates of the missing property.

Keeping track of everything is an arduous task, and there’s never been a clear system,” Serbin said. “The chips introduce accountability, make things easier.”

Aside from keeping tabs on stolen goods, the chips help hotels keep track of which linens have made it from the establishment to the cleaners and back again.

CNN reports that the idea came to him while driving through Florida’s toll roads and coming across sensors, an internationally used automatic technology. He wanted to know if the technology could be made waterproof.

“We tweaked the technology, went through trial and error with different types of chips and put them in the correct place,” he said. “Now, chip life exceeds 300 wash cycles.”

To date, the hotels have already busted a numerous thieves, Serbin states, all of whom were cordially asked – much to their surprise – to return the hotel property. 

“It’s been phenomenal,” he added. “The chips create a lot of conversation. When my friends travel, they’ll call and ask, ‘Are you guys at my hotel?'”