A Woman Stole A Hotel Vase & Then the Story Went Where You’d Never Imagine

by SharonKurheg

Any hotel manager will tell you that theft happens all the time. In fact, it happens enough where surveys have been done to determine the items most often stolen from hotels and the nationalities of who steals what, as well as the top items Americans steal from U.S. hotels. And this is despite the new ways hotels have figured out to thwart theft.

If you browse ye ole’ internets, you’ll find stories of people who’ve been caught stealing from hotels and being fined. Sometimes they’re employees, like a hotel bartender who was caught stealing 5 bottles of rum. Other times it’s a guest, such as the man who stole a hotel’s fireplace equipment. And sometimes the punishment is much worse than a fine, such as the woman who was jailed for 3 months because she took two towels from her hotel room.

But with all of those stories, the punishment sort of fit the crime (OK, maybe not jail time for stealing towels) – you steal something, you’re going to pay a fine. Makes sense, right?

But I recently read a story on Reddit where a man discovered that his mother stole something from a hotel. Except it wasn’t something minor, like a towel or even the clock in her room. Nope, this was a vase. A 2-foot tall Baccarat crystal vase. And the man just wasn’t sure what to do.

a vase and flowers on a tableIt was written by a user named /Competitive_Oil5227. If you look at his profile, you’ll see he’s a pretty decent storyteller, which made this story about his mother, the vase stealer, even better.

I’ll let him tell the tale:

My mother has sticky fingers.

Today I got a package in the post from my mother. Which was odd, as she just came to visit me in chicago over Christmas.

I open it and there’s a two foot tall Baccarat crystal vase in the package and a post it note that says ‘please call me love mom’ stuck to it.

I’m perplexed as I’m not a fancy crystal vase kind of guy.

Well, turns out that she was staying in a fancy suite at a hotel over Christmas that had this object displayed and she took a liking to it. So much so that she took it with her.

As I looked at it I could see chunks of that white putty that people use to stick things down with. So she literally must have pried it off.

And the hotel noticed, as they added a $1200 line item to the bill that arrived. My mother apparently does not like it that much. She also removed a robe, but I guess she is ok with paying $125 for that item as it was not included in her package.

So it’s now my job to take this back to the hotel and explain to some poor desk person that my mother took it in error and could you please remove it from the bill.

Please tell me that they will do this? If they don’t I will feel the full wrath of an old lady, as anything less than a full refund will be seen as a failure on my part.

There were close to 700 replies to this first part of the story. Many of them suggested that maybe Mom had dementia, or even if she didn’t, to say that she did. Other people told their own stories of hotel guests stealing things (or sometimes inadvertently taking them in error. A hair dryer. A kid taking a pillow. etc.). There were also suggestions of ways to try not to get billed but still not throw his mom under the truck.

Anyway, two days later, /Competitive_Oil5227 wrote an update to the story:

My mother has sticky fingers, an update.

Invalid request error occurred.To recap, my mom stole a very large and very expensive vase from her hotel suite. The hotel added it to her bill and she sent it back to me to return for her and most importantly get her card refunded.

I took all your advice and walked into the hotel with the full intention of claiming my mum has dementia and didn’t know what she was doing. And honestly with the size of the vase it seemed very plausible.

I also knew from the hotel insiders comments to ask for the shift manager and was honestly worried that I was about to go down to felony theft. I even put a paper check in my wallet, just in case I ended up having to pay for something and put on my nice overcoat.

The entire drive downtown I was cursing my mother. But anyone on here with an 83 year old stereotypical Jewish mom will know that sometimes you just have to do things as the fallout from her would be worse than anything a hotel could dish out.

The front desk fellow couldn’t have been nicer. When I gestured to the box he didn’t even ask why I needed to see the shift manager, just asked me to wait while he was paged.

The shift manager arrives, I open the box and display the vase inside. It still had a post-it note stuck to the front that said ‘please call me love mom’ on it. Before I even got half of my story out he excuses himself and disappears.

The desk fellow walks over and asks if I’d like to sit down and takes me to this little area with a desk and offers me coffee. I’m now imagining that the police have been called and I’m triple cursing my mom.

In walks in a fellow who is the hotel general manager. ‘I hear that Mrs. X has sent the vase back. Is everything ok?’

I start in on the dementia story, he stops me…‘I first met your mother in 1982 when I started working here. There was a young boy who had climbed into the lobby fountain and was about to urinate on the statue and your mother asked me to fish him out as she was wearing difficult shoes. I am guessing that was you?’

I’m confused, but tell the fellow that was my brother and the story had become a family legend.

‘She has a hobby of removing things during her stay and we have historically just added them to her bill. Am I to take it she does not want to keep this?’

I’m thinking…how much money has she spent on stolen towels and other hotel crap? And all I can do is thank the fellow for looking out for her. He follows up with ‘when she was here last year I worried that may be be the last time we would see her. It made my Christmas the day I saw her reservation request’. Which was about the nicest way anyone could ever say ‘your mom is very old and I assumed she was dead’.

I’ll be checking her luggage next time.

Y’all, I just love that story. It’s so old school, you know? The woman has been coming for 40-something years. They know she’s going to steal something, so they let her get away with it and just bill her for it. How often is it nowadays that someone has been going to the same hotel for that long, and it has at least one employee who’s been there that whole time, and now he’s the GM who “takes care of her” in his own way?

Of course, she shouldn’t have been taking things all along. But the cat-and-mouse game for all that time is priceless.

Oh! Almost forgot! /Competitive_Oil5227 had a few more additions to the story:

Regarding the kid in the lobby fountain:

It was for sure my brother…in my father’s version of the story my mom was pregnant with me at the time with swollen feet and refused to wear tennis shoes and he had to help wedge her feet into heels. In my god mother’s version (who lived in a condo above the hotel) my mom’s doctor had said it was ok for her to resume drinking at the 8 month mark (!?!) so her feet were both swollen and she was not quite sober.

(for what it’s worth – I have no idea how old /Competitive_Oil5227 is. But I do know that in the decades before the 70s or so, the medical profession was not like it is today. I have a relative who didn’t eat well as an infant in the mid-1960s. Their pediatrician told the parents to put red wine in their baby formula, as an appetite enhancement!)


I left out a few of the less attractive parts of the story (like the fact that she had mailed the thing back to me in a 1990s box that once held a Sears vacuum cleaner, which had people glaring at me…and the fact that the valet guy charged me 45 bucks to hold my car for 20 minutes) to make it a little more appealing. The entire phone call I had with her when this project got dumped on me was…well, acerbic.

And he also said the hotel did indeed take the vase back. He wasn’t sure if it would actually become a refund on her credit card, though.

* Note: like anything on Reddit (or any social media), there’s no way to be 100% certain that these events actually occurred. A few people suggested as much in their replies to /Competitive_Oil5227. Personally, I try to maintain some form of faith in humanity, and although SOME stories are just “obviously” made up, I prefer to think this one is real.

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1 comment

Richard February 7, 2024 - 4:32 pm

This reminded me of an episode on Candid Camera, a long time ago (perhaps the 60’s?) Allen Funt. the host, had a suitcase that he could “accidentally” open by pressing a button on the handle. With that, he visited multiple hotels and loaded the suitcase with all sorts of hotel goods. He then asked the hotel doorman to get him a taxi. As the doorman was opening the cab’s door, Alan would press that button and everything would fall onto the sidewalk. The doormen’s reactions were quite mixed, ranging from helping him repack the bag to “you’re coming with me.” A wonderful show in a very different time.


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