Hotel Theft in Turkey: Our Cases and Our Advice

How I got my rings stolen from my hotel room in Istanbul and how I got a compensation

I want to tell an entertaining story about a New Year’s vacation in Istanbul and how to defend my rights.

Once, when we had a very short layover in Istanbul, my husband said something like “Man, it’s so beautiful, it’s a pity the layover is short. And I’m not really a person, but the gold, so I decided to give him (and myself) a train for the January holidays in Istanbul. For Turkey, a lot of Russians (and somehow I always enjoy not being the only representative of Russia in an overseas country – this is probably me after I sat in a pandemic (read: posedel) in another country), no visa, not much money, beauty, freedom of expression in the form of graffiti – and I just oh how I love it.

Anyway, in November tickets were bought Aeroflot Moscow-Istanbul and back for (spoiler: this is going to hurt) 40 000 rubles … But this is kind of New Year, covid circumstances and all that.

I’ll omit the moments of sadness when the restrictions in Turkey began in late November/December, closures of cafes/stores/museums and whatnot. We worried and waited and waited and worried. And so, on January 1, after getting a negative PCR and two hours of sleep, we are at the airport and striding faithfully toward our gate. Tests were checked at the gate and that was it, we were on the plane, flying to the land of shawarma, ferries and cats. Stewardesses responsibly frayed the nerves of all who dared even think about sticking their noses out of masks, and for this they are a big bonus.

Upon arrival it was very nice to find out that Istanbul has a very (no, really, really, really) well organized process of how you go from the airport to the city. Immediately on your way out, you go down to the parking lot, chase off or kick the cab drivers – it’s up to your luck, they’re pesky – and make your way to the buses. I chose the HavaIst company. They go to all parts of the city every 15 minutes. And they cost no more than 31 lira (as of early January). That’s 300 rubles. An hour on the bus – and you’re in the historic center of Istanbul. But here you have to beat off the cab drivers, who want to take you to the hotel/hostel. We don’t like that, because we’re greedy. In fact, we walked. Another hour of wandering, because someone (I’m not pointing fingers) forgot to download the map in advance, and we got to the hotel. This is the second time I have not squeezed the money for normal living conditions. Beautiful place, great bed, outdoor rooftop terrace…mmm, that sounds like the beginning of comfort. In fact, the first two days it was. But we’ll come back to that later.

The first day we explored the surroundings, generally realized how hard it is to walk right after the flight, ate (oh yes, despite the ban on boarding guests, all the cafes will accommodate you – just ask maybe second floor?) and went back to the hotel.

The second day turned out to be very active. I was afraid to look at the pedometer in the evening, there were non-standard values of walking for me. But, the weather was favorable – it was +17. After the rain and mud in +2, it seemed such a blessing. Honestly, on this day I realized that Istanbul is really good. This city has a huge history, some moments of which cannot leave you indifferent. What made me cringe was that the Hagia Sophia had been taken away from its museum status and designated a mosque. Well, as it were, to originally convert a Christian temple into a mosque is such a decision. It’s like ripping off a piece of a book and gluing another ♀️.

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I also really liked the Istanbul train station. It looks like a place from a fairy tale movie, completely empty, with stained glass windows and all, absolutely all, drenched in sunshine. I don’t understand what people managed to spend in Istanbul some scary amounts of money – like 5,000 rubles per day per person and more. Our whole budget was 92 dollars and 20 euros in cash, plus more hotel payments by card – 14 000, a couple of dinners at 600-650 for two (taking into account the conversion of ruble-dollar-lira and all that.) Also, when we went to buy souvenirs at a stall, my husband “attacked” a local cat. Well, how did he attack. The man pissed him off too much, and, as expected, the cat was indignant. It was comical – I’m standing in line, I hear a human scream, a cat’s furious “meow” and in the back of my mind I know what’s out there.

Day three was chosen as the day to visit the Galata Tower and the other important sights not yet seen (the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, cisterns). Well, it was just for a tick, except for the cisterns – I really wanted to go there, but they are all under restoration. Walked through the market, which of course is also “closed”. Just kidding, of course it is open. Everyone understands that the lion’s share of Turkey’s economy is tourism. And to completely close such places means shoving yourself in a very deep, shall we say, hole.

All day again we were cramming the pedometer and in the evening we came in terribly tired. I was expecting to just lie down now, pick up my phone and poke at a bunch of new pictures, answer work or look up something on my internet… However, when I got to the table I felt something amiss. You know, that feeling, just the first 3 seconds on the scene, like Nesbø writes. You just know for some reason that something is wrong! And of course, yes, I open the box of rings – and they’re not there. Naturally, anger, resentment, misunderstanding, and searching. After flipping the room, it was decided to drag myself to the front desk. The hotel staff were so surprised that they had “such a, yes, what would, yes never. It was all in broken English in a mixture of Turkish. The hotel manager just did not come, waving off the fact that it’s late, he will come tomorrow morning. And no one kind of wants to spend the day light to see the cameras and the proceedings, so we immediately indicated a position or the manager is now dragging himself here, or the police. And the manager never went … For 2 hours he just ignored our demands, explaining his refusal of the inconvenience, the late hour and everything you can.

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But no, we are two of the most stuffy people I know. We really read the laws to see if anyone owes us anything, we write complaints right away if we don’t like something. In short, here we are the ones no one likes or expects. After reading the laws of Turkey and making sure that we are 100% right, we decided to call the police. And voi-la, the manager is on his way! And he also found some female hotel employee who had lived in Uzbekistan and knows Russian. Sounds like the beginning of something global, doesn’t it?

Another 20 minutes of waiting and the manager, a Russian-speaking lady and three (!), all three cleaning employees arrived. Why they were brought, I have no idea. But I was told: “We asked them, they did not steal. And they repeated this to me three times.

Nnn-yeah, I didn’t expect a quick solution to the problem, but I wasn’t going to make such a fuss over silver rings, either. But, as they say, they chose. It was decided to look for the truth.

We divided into two teams for this purpose: cleaning service (three people), reception employee and my husband went to the room to try to find the rings. And I, the manager and the Russian-speaking madam – to watch the cameras. Oh, how I performed there – yes, it was my finest hour. Two and a half hours of watching cameras from the floor, constant rewinding and clarification. We spent about forty minutes analyzing and rewatching the moment where eight minutes were cut. I answer in advance, yes, they were just cameras with motion sensors. I have a special dislike for them, so I decided to piss on this one too, just in case.

Let’s get back to our sheep. I was cursing about the thief breaking in and taking our jewelry, and they cut it out of the camera. They couldn’t convince me otherwise, though somehow they didn’t try. Later my husband joined us and the four of us continued. Thanks to him, he came to the rescue in time and started fraying the nerves of staff with the question – why a room of 20 square meters is cleaned by three people? That, by the way, was really the only oddity that caught on camera. Oh, and a cat was running from the second floor to the fourth. But I don’t think it was her.

It had been going on for four hours, and everyone involved, exhausted, had decided to look for a compromise. I let out a tear, and googled similar rings, only in gold and with stones, well, much bigger than the ones I had. I took screenshots of these rings and waited. Waiting for an offer of something I should have paid.

I was not offered compensation until the last! But I said that, unfortunately, these are the rarest stones made in Tanzania (yes, tanzanites and they cost a pretty penny) and that I should either look for them somehow and involve the police or order new stones right away. It turns out the hotel personnel didn’t even suspect that I would start embellishing the reality. This once again confirms the axiom: he who holds the information, holds the world.

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Then I meaningfully stuck to my phone, and then told them that I had changed my departure date, because I could no longer stay in a country where you can’t get your hand chopped off for stealing. Why did I say that? I do not know, it was emotional. Probably the same emotion that I later said I was a reporter…

The whole thing was translated to the manager in Turkish. He sighed and tried to convince me that it was my own fault for not putting it in the safe. Let’s say I didn’t, but why steal? No matter how many terrible shacks we stayed in, no one touched a thing.

And then, imperceptibly, we came to the peak of the story – a refund. I asked for a small compensation, 9,000 rubles, but there were only 2,500 rings.

However, even that was a lot for them! In general, the compensation I agreed to about 7000, which is also not bad. Except the conditions are great – I’m writing a positive review on bookings! Yeah, right. Just ran out to write a review, and even a lie. Then I was asked to write on paper, that no complaints to the hotel. The hotel was kind of cool, but we were asked to write on paper that there were no complaints about the hotel. The conditions are kind of fulfilled – the mute question remains, where is the money! And yes, yes! I was told we will transfer it to your card…just take a Xerox copy of your card.

(Oh, here’s a flaming hello to all the people who have anything to do with various compliance issues. Do you realize what an epic fail it is to photocopy your card. How about two more sides?! Or let me leave it like that, for sure, we are all honest people here).

There was a lot of yelling and noise from me next. Since they’re trying to cheat me so brazenly here – I’m going to do very badly, too. And I went around to the other guests, with a story about how people steal here and ask to keep their things in the safe. I sat in the lobby and told people going out and coming in. In short, 20 minutes and that was it, agreed to give me compensation in cash.

We spent the next day riding the ferry on the Bosphorus, walking around, and entertaining new acquaintances with this story. You know, the thing I would have liked most at that moment was to see the faces of those who really took the rings. The very second I would have said to them when I tried to sell them: “Come on, it’s worth pennies, it’s silver.” Yes. That would have been a phenomenal victory for justice.

What’s the moral and what was my point? Never, ever, turn a blind eye to situations that hurt you! Stand up for your rights to the last, even if it takes effort and time.

Readers write. Here they share their experiences and financial stories

Thievery in hotels in Turkey: the staff are defended – “tourists are to blame”.

Do they steal in hotels in Turkey, where the major “risk zones” are, and how tourists can avoid this trouble, as well as why holidaymakers themselves are at fault for such theft? Such a “hot” topic was emotionally discussed by tourists on one of the Yandex.zen channels in several publications. First we will give the floor to “witnesses for the prosecution.

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With the assertion that in Turkey “people steal regularly, at various resorts,” came one of the readers of the blog (link). According to her, situations occur “more often in Kemer and Alanya, less often in Fethiye and Belek. And it does not depend on the hotel. There were in the budget one, but in expensive 5 * we were completely knocked down.

The traveler stressed that “money and documents are not lost,” but only because of prudence, as they are taken with them “even on the beach. “But cosmetics, watches, perfume, children’s clothing, branded bags, jewelry (I do not bring gold, only silver), good beach towels, sunglasses – that’s right, was taken,” – she said. Moreover, the largest theft was bought in Turkey, “a new mink coat”, and here at the neighbors, “even the money from the safe at the reception stole!

Features on which you can rely to create a “safety precaution,” the tourist the following:

  1. They mostly steal on the penultimate or last day. “They are well aware that most of the victims will not make noise … Someone will write a statement to the police and that’s it. Noisy or noisy, there won’t be a plane waiting to go home.” In this case, there is a risk even when they offer to “wrap the suitcase in plastic”, as tourists will get into the suitcase only at home.
  2. “There are video surveillance cameras in hotels, but thieves bypass them perfectly,” warns the tourist. The stolen items, she says, “are wrapped in bed linen or towels and taken out on cleaning-service carts. Also risky is a room with a door between the rooms – then the thieves enter one room, go into the other, “and on surveillance video it appears that no one has entered your room.”
  3. “People get into the room through the ventilation, too. Once my husband noticed a large square on the ceiling was loose. Moved the table, looked – and there’s a manhole that goes over all the rooms, “- also said the tourist.
  4. For things, she offers to “watch”, not to take anything branded and expensive on vacation, but “more or less worthwhile things” hide in a suitcase under the code.

She notes that Turkey is not unique in terms of getting rich at the expense of the tourist. “We have also stolen in Spain, and in Egypt, and in Montenegro, and in Cyprus. Well, and in Russia, of course: in Kazan, in the hotel Ramadа (for a minute, it is an international chain with an excellent reputation!) While I was on excursions kind maid poured myself half a jar of my powder in balls “Meteorites” HERLEN (not bad, right?). In Crimea, in Sudak, the hostess of the guest house, from a bundle of 25 thousand quietly pulled, but we came “bad time”, almost by the hand was caught. Two hours of scandal – gave it back. We have never had anything stolen from us only in the UAE – even an expensive SLR and money lying in a bag for half a day on the beach, and nothing. But in Turkey, we were stolen more often…”, – said the tourist.

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Now moving on to the opponents. Another “correspondent”, presented in the same blog, harshly stated (link) that the tourists “themselves to blame”, and in the first place – the peculiarities of the Russian “application” of the all-inclusive. “Two years ago we flew in the winter, right after the New Year vacations in Turkey, to a budget four in Alanya (I will not name it, the situation is typical, you can also find it in other hotels). We flew for a week. And during this time in our hotel did not meet a single sober face. People started drinking immediately after breakfast, as soon as the bar opened. In principle, it is understandable: there is nothing much to do in Turkey in winter – the sea is cold, the sun is not every day – that’s why we went there,” she explains the situation.

Accordingly, the effect of alcohol on the brain leads to the fact that tourists forget expensive phones, bags and other things wherever they find them. Here is how the tourist describes a typical example. “In the evening we go to a bar. At a nearby table – a couple, a young man and woman. They didn’t sit long and left. I look – and the lady has left her purse on a chair! There was a lot of smoke in the bar, so I took the purse away and put it on our table. An hour goes by and no one remembers her. 11.00, the bar closes – nobody comes back for it. We call the waiter, open it in front of him, so as not to have any complaints – there is an iPhone, passport, voucher with the room number. We go upstairs with my husband to the room – no one is there. Nothing to do, we go back to the reception, to write a new application. There sits this matryoshka – covered in snot, tears, and demands to see the police, saying her bag was stolen. We call the waiter, he confirms our words. Thank you from her and never waited, thanked only the guys from the reception.

Cases of “forgetting” things tourist listed a little less than her opponent – cases of theft. “Don’t be mad at the staff. Waiters, cleaners, animators have enough work – they have no time to look for your things. And if they disappear from you – it’s your own fault, you need to keep an eye on them,” she declares in the end.

However, the previous tourist has pre-selected and objections. “We always take an all-inclusive, but we never drink anything stronger than coffee, not even beer. Therefore, things, as well as memory, we do not lose. So, we blame only on the hotel staff, “- says the first tourist. She also emphasizes that much depends on the hotel management – where there is impunity, where people are covered and there is no work with personnel, there are problems.

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