Who Responds To A Survey Like This?

a man pushing a cart with luggage

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As I was making my way through my usual set of travel news websites this morning, a headline caught my eye – but not before I’d skipped on to the next page. It was one of those moments where my finger clicked “next” before my brain had caught up with what my eyes had just seen.

As I waited for the page to reload (the internet connection was, and still is, terrible where I am) I started thinking about the headline that I’d seen….or had I? Had the Telegraph Travel section really posted that? The page reloaded and there it was:

“Revealed: The Nationality Most Likely To Steal From Hotels”

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Had I opened the Mail Online by mistake? I expect this sort of headline from the Daily Mail, but the Telegraph?!

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 21.42.10Then it occurred to me – this was “click-bait” and I’d fallen for it. I assured myself that the survey would just be about people taking hotel toiletries (which hotels expect you to take), and the headline was just there to get people to click on the Telegraph’s link.

So I started to read. And there, on the very first line, the article said:

“Argentinian travellers are the most likely to indulge in hotel misappropriation, a survey has suggested, with 73 per cent admitting to taking items – not including toiletries – from their room.”

No toiletries? And It was a survey??!!!

Who responds a survey asking if you’ve stolen anything from a hotel? And who admits to it? (Argentineans apparently!)

I was hooked. I now wanted needed to know who the other “thieving” countries were, how scientific the polling actually was (was it a poll of the first ten people to leave a random Motel 6 or was it a proper survey?) and what on earth were they stealing? Laundry? TVs? Lamps? (I’ll admit that I secretly wanted to find out that someone had stolen a whole housekeeping trolley).

I continued reading and it didn’t take long to find out that the survey was actually a “global poll of almost 5,000 travellers” – thats’s a serious survey.

And then, to one side, I noticed the results:

“The 10 Nationalities most likely to steal”

  1. Argentina – 73%
  2. Singapore – 71%
  3. Spain – 70%
  4. Germany – 68%
  5. Ireland – 67%
  6. Russia – 59%
  7. Mexico – 59%
  8. Italy – 57%
  9. Japan – 56%
  10. USA – 53%

For any British readers who are wondering, you guys came 16th (out of 28) with less than 50% of your fellow countrymen (and country-women) admitting to stealing from hotels.

I’m not sure what we should make of this? Do we consider the top few countries dishonest for stealing? Honest for owning up to stealing or downright stupid for answering the poll? I thinks it’s probably a combination of all three.

So what were they stealing?

Annoyingly the article didn’t really give too much detail but it did give a few anecdotes, including one about a Japanese couple being arrested for stealing bathrobes and an ashtray (hardly the Italian Job is it?) and another about a woman in Nigeria who was sentenced to two months in prison for stealing 2 towels (2 months for two towels?!) but not much more than that.

At the end of the article, however, there was a list of “weird items stolen from hotels” which included:

  • A television
  • A room number
  • Curtains
  • Flowers
  • Someone’s pet dog
  • A fireplace

And then came my favourite – “everything“. A couple checked themselves into a Holiday Inn somewhere in the US, asked for a room near the car park and proceeded to empty the contents of their room into a rented truck. There’s no mention if they were ever caught but, if they were, they should consider themselves lucky they weren’t in Nigeria….that would have to be a life sentence!

Featured image: Jason Kuffer via Flickr


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