Hotel Room Safes – They May Not Be as Safe as You Think

You’ve been told for years to always keep your valuables secure by placing them in your hotel room safe.  And while this is a good place to secure your valuables (other than the front desk safe which is usually more secure and usually has more liability protection), there is something you can do to increase the protection of your hotel room safe.

Theft from hotel in-room safes is not an everyday occurrence, but it does happen and you don’t want to be the one it happens to. Hotel guests do forget their safe codes, or safe electronics may malfunction. Therefore, the hotel staff has to have some way to unlock the hotel room safe.  Hotels all have a special “electronic backdoor” that allows them to use a special digital code, key or electronic device to open the safe if needed. So you are truely not the only one with access to your safe.

Electronic Keypad Room Safe

This type of safe is commonly found in mainstream hotels and resorts and in many ways is the one that MAY have the least amount of thefts from it. That’s because it requires a handheld PDA to open the safe. These safes require the attachment of a handheld PDA, with either an infra-red USB, or cable. The units store up to 50 entries, incorrect PIN entry, and it’s all time and date stamped. These can be attached to a PC, where audit reports can be printed for police and insurance purposes. These units DO NOT have a hotel override, it reveals the guest PIN.

Electronic Keypad Safe With Keypad Override Access

These types of hotel room safes require the use of an override *sequence*, not just a PIN number. This type of safe is almost as good as the one previously mentioned, as it contains a removable chip, which can access all the same data as above.

Electronic Keypad Access With Manual Safety Key

These room safes are not as secure as the previous two. This style requires the moving of the safe to enter a key, and entering an override code. They record the time and date of the override entry, but nothing else. Refer below as to who *should* hold the spare key.

Manual Key Safe With Safety Key Access

This is a very old room safe model and is becoming more rare as time passes as hotels remodel and replace them with newer electronic versions. Yes they do have spare keys, but reputable hotels don’t keep them accessible – even to management. It’s often kept in a fire safe with either the general cashier, or hotel management – we would hope – but many times who knows where this key is and who has access to it?

Hotel Safes Always Have Pre-Determined Default Override PINs

A story and video that was posted on YouTube made this claim and it could be very true, but is not believed to be a common occurrence.  Since this video hit the internet, many hotel room safe manufacturers now generate a random default password to prevent this in case the safe is accidentally locked during installation.

If you are unsure of your hotel room’s safe security, your best option is to consider using a special hotel safe lock called the Milockie.  This hotel safe lock consists of a special lock and strap. You simply add this device to the safe preventing anyone else from gaining access and adding a tamper evident device to your safe.

Milockie Hotel Safe Lock

Milockie Hotel Safe Lock

Thefts from hotel safes usually involve dishonest hotel employees and these types of thefts seem to have a higher rate of being reported in hotels outside the United States.  To view many of these hotel in-room safe stories reported by travelers, click on this TripAdvisor link A common thread in these hotel in room safe theft reports is that they occurred in Mexico, South America, and Southern Europe, Spain, Canary Islands, Africa, and Asia.

Here are a few videos that travelers have filmed showing how easy it is to open hotel safes with a simple master code or other means.

Hotel In Room Safe which Opens with Master Pass Code of “0000” – Not Too Frequent of an Occurrence – But Know That In Can Happen

Hotel Safe in Chicago Shows the Reset Switch Which Can be Easily Accessed.