THIEVES MOVING 'INN' CITY HOTELS BESIEGED BY BANDITS
New York Post, December 1, 2002
You might plunk down $500 for a room - but a night in one of
Gotham's top hotels may not be as safe as you think.
Behind the smiling concierge and gleaming marble counters lurks one
of the industry's best-kept secrets - crime and hotels go together
like a bellhop and an open palm.
Every day guests in the city's hotels fall prey to bag boosters,
pickpockets, burglars and push-in thieves, law-enforcement sources
told The Post. There is even a cadre of crooks who specialize in
But because the NYPD does not keep specific data on hotel crime and
hotels keep the incidents quiet, the misdeeds are the city's
"Perception is not reality," said Chris McGoey, a security
consultant to hotel chains. "They have crimes every day."
Three weeks ago a man with a rap sheet for push-in robberies was
caught hiding in a maid's closet at Manhattan's Sheraton Hotel
hoping to pounce on unsuspecting guests, cops said.
Two days before that, con men robbed an $80,000 gem from a diamond
dealer staying in the Waldorf-Astoria, law-enforcement sources said.
One industry survey of frequent business travelers showed 25 percent
of men and 18 percent of women claimed to be victims of hotel crime.
And nationwide, about 10,000 security-related lawsuits are filed
against hotels each year.
Three lawsuits brought by women who were attacked in separate
Manhattan hotels enabled courts to force hotel security offices to
give up secret files on hotel crimes - with worrying results.
The most recent case centers on Ava Tanner, a Canadian businesswoman
who suffered a broken jaw during a Feb. 22, 2000 push- in robbery at
Ian Shraeger's Paramount Hotel on West 46th Street.
"I want other women to know they can't assume they are safe in any
hotel," said Tanner, whose case is pending.
Tanner said she was followed by convicted felon Albert Carroll and
another man at 5:30 p.m. as she entered an elevator and rode to the
As she entered her room, Carroll grabbed her in a choke hold from
"I was screaming bloody murder but nobody came," Tanner said.
Tanner learned several things about Paramount safety through her
* A Dean & DeLuca shop inside the hotel was robbed at gunpoint
earlier the day of the attack.
* Carroll, who had completed an eight-year term for attempted
robbery, had no trouble getting by the two security guards on duty
in the 16-story, 610-room boutique hotel.
* There were no security cameras on the elevators or corridors.
* At least 23 people were arrested at the Paramount between 1986 and
1998 for assault, weapons possession, attempted robbery, larceny,
drugs and burglary. Arrests represent less than 10 percent of actual
crime, experts said.
* Logs kept by the security firm between 1998 and 2000 show a host
of illegal activity at the hotel that included robberies, break-
ins, and guests being shoved into rooms by intruders.
"You might well be safer pitching a tent and sleeping in Central
Park," said Tanner's lawyer, Madeline Bryer. Carroll was convicted
of robbery and is serving 25 years to life, while his accomplice
remains at large.
Several calls for comment to the Paramount were not returned.
Security at the Hotel Pennsylvania was the subject of a recently
settled lawsuit brought by a woman raped at knifepoint in a
mezzanine-level bathroom in 1995.
The sprawling, 1,700- room hotel had also logged 10 petit larcenies,
21 grand larcenies, 12 burglaries and one attempted robbery in the
year before the attack.
In August 2000, the hotel paid $850,000 to settle the case.
The Hotel Pennsylvania, now under new ownership, has more than 100
security cameras in elevators, corridors and other public areas, and
requires guests to show their room keys to gain access to elevators,
said general manager Jim Flynn.
However a Post reporter and photographer last week were able to
reach and walk around several floors without being stopped.
Last September, UCLA history professor Ruth Bloch lost a lawsuit
against the Waldorf-Astoria over a sexual assault that allegedly
took place when a stranger broke into her room during the night in
Police reports in Bloch's case turned up 60 arrests at the hotel
between 1985 and 1995 for robbery, larceny, burglary, sexual assault
and two homicides.
Waldorf general manager Eric Long conceded hotels remain vigilant
for crime but swore by his team of security experts, state-of-the-
art cameras and electronic door locks.
A Post reporter and photographer walked to several floors without
One industry survey of business travelers showed
* 25 percent of males and 18 percent of females claimed to be
victims of hotel crime.
* About 10,000 security related lawsuits are filed against hotels
* The Post checked security at some of the city's top hotels last
week, looking for uniformed guards and surveillance cameras. A
reporter and photographer were able to reach several guest floors in
all the hotels without being questioned or stopped.
Sheraton Hotel, 790 7th Avenue
* One guard at entrance, none at elevators.
* No visible cameras.
* Hotel response: None.
Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway
* One guard outside main entrance. Three to four at eighth-floor
check-in and another stationed on second floor. None at side
entrances or elevators
* Cameras visible at reception desk but not elevators or guest
* Hotel response: Access limited after certain hours, plainclothes
The Plaza, Fifth Avenue and 59th Street
* One guard near side entrance, none at elevators
* Cameras visible in each lobby area, but none in elevators or guest
* Hotel response: Full-time, in-house security staff, high-tech
surveillance and electronic door locks
Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Ave
* One guard at main lobby entrance, none at three side entrances or
* No cameras visible at front entrance, elevators, or guest
hallways. Three cameras at an unguarded side entrance
* Hotel response: State-of-the-art video surveillance and electronic
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