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Motel Safety

Staying Safe When Staying For The Night.

by Gayle Crabtree
Former Night Auditor for an international hotel chain.
This article was written after I was raped while on the job. These tips came about because after working for nearly a year in the industry I found times when guest safety was compromised by either the motel or the guest themselves. It is drawn on my experience as a franchise employee for a nationally recognized motel chain.

 Most of the time nothing goes wrong - but it only takes one criminal incident to make you rethink where you want to spend the night. There are many security problems women face when staying in a hotel or motel. I believe the following tips will help make your stay more enjoyable and more secure.

When you are checking in check in under your initials if allowed. This will prevent someone calling and saying for instance "Give me Ann's room number will you?"

 Usually the person on desk will simply transfer the call to the room. But when initials are used the person calling must come up with your initials and usually last name before the call is put through to you.

During check in pay special attention when being told where your room is located. Try to stay near the front desk where it is usually better lit than the back of the motel which may be darker, making it easier for someone to sneak up on you.

If you are in a part of the motel where you don't feel ,safe go back to the desk. Tell the clerk you need a better area. Do not be afraid of irritating the clerk. Part of what you are paying for is a safe place to spend the night.

 If the clerk should announce your room number and there are other people nearby, do not take that room. Wait a few minutes for another opportunity to quietly ask the clerk to change you into another room and not announce it to everyone in the lobby this time.

 If you are in a motel that does not charge for an extra person register under Mr. & Mrs.. This will make people think that you are not by yourself.

 In a motel, one thing that is pretty standard across the country is to leave the curtains open in the rooms that are not occupied. If you go to your room and the curtains are closed, or there are things in the room that look out of place, even if the curtains are open, pretend that you simply forgot what room is yours and go back to the desk as quickly as possible. Tell them your findings and ask someone to escort you or to go check the room for you.

Second floor rooms are safer than first floor rooms because they are not as easy to break into and drive off. Please keep this in mind. I know that carrying luggage and lap tops up steps is no one's idea of fun but you need to be safe.

 Your best bet is to only stay in motels where you have to enter from the inside to get to your room. This lessens the likelihood of someone trying to break in.

 As a desk clerk, my supervisor coached us very carefully on how to answer security questions. (This has been my experience anyway)  When you ask a question be very specific. Here are some examples:

1.Q. Do you have security?

      A. Someone is on the desk all the time and the police are good at patrolling.

This does not tell you if that motel has security it just tells you someone is watching the desk and the town has police.

 2.Q. Try: Do you have a security guard during any hours of the day or night?

       A: This will have to be a yes or a no and gives no room to get around the question.

3.Q. Have you had any security problems lately?
      A. Not that I know of.

This does not tell you what you need to know. I was raped while on duty at an individual franchise for a national motel chain. My supervisor called it in to the police but didn't even tell the day shift worker coming in after me what had happened. This way she could honestly say "Not that I know of."

 Ask directly if there have been any reasons to call the police or security in the past month. This makes the person on duty have to say yes or no. Even if they are not sure why the police were called they have to give an honest answer.
 

Other things to keep in mind. Make sure the buildings are well tended and there is no overgrown shrubbery that can make the entrance to you door partially or completely blocked.

Check for lighting. If it seems too dark move to an area that has better lighting

 Always keep your eyes and ears open. If you notice anything that makes you feel insecure trust your instincts. Let the desk know immediately. If you get no result either check out of the motel or call the police yourself.

 Never let anyone into the room until you have verified who they are. This is very important. Anyone can pose as a motel's maintenance person or as a desk clerk or maid. Always call the front desk to make sure who that person is before you open the door.

 Before going to all the trouble to put your things into the room make sure your door locks adequately. I actually worked for a franchise who had doors that would appear locked, but you could still open them from the outside this was an international motel chain. In this case you may want to change motels. Although most likely the management will simply want to change you to another room.
This may be ok but I wouldn't feel comfortable sleeping there. Would you?

 While you are checking. Don't forget to make sure your phone is turned on and make sure the windows lock well. You don't want to take a chance. If anything seems wrong call the front desk immediately!!

 Check your bill carefully when you leave. Sometimes errors do occur. If there is one it is much easier to get solved right then than to find out when you get home.

Unless, you absolutely have to don't secure it with a credit card. Many times the motels I worked for would authorize a much higher amount on your credit card than actually needed. This is great protection for the motel, but ties up that extra amount for at least 7 days on your credit card. This can be disastrous when traveling if you are planning on using your cards on your trip. Even telling the clerk that you will pay by cash upon check out won't usually help. Your credit card is still going to be authorized.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter how the area looks that you are staying in, no matter how many times you have stayed at the motel before don't fail to be alert and always trust your instincts. If something seems wrong, don't question the feeling. Take whatever precautions you need to in order to feel safe, even if this means leaving.

The area I worked in was perceived to be one of the safest in the town. It was close to a mall, many restaurants, and had easy access to the interstate. The town was medium sized with good tourist traffic, close to a heavy residential area.  Yet, it didn't matter when a criminal decided to strike.
 

© 1996-2001
Copyright Gayle Crabtree
All Rights Reserved




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This page is not meant to be a substitute for any kind of professional help. It is merely put together by a survivor who has found much of this information helpful to her healing and offered as a possible help to others. If you feel you need a professional to speak with please contact your local rape crisis center or health care professional. I claim no responsibility for the use of this page, use of content, or content of any links leading from this page. This page is offered for support of other survivors, informational, and entertainment only.