Holiday travel just got a whole lot scarier. Thieves have been using a device that helps them crack hotel room locks. It basically acts as a master key to anyone who has one.
It's a frightening thought for every single person who stays at a hotel, whether for business travel or a family vacation. Even scarier, however, is just how easy it is to get your hands on one of these tools.
Criminals are learning how to make it from videos online. A security expert says it can be constructed in a half an hour. According to Today, the hotel industry has known about this security crisis for months but hasn't been able to fix the problem. With this little device, crooks are getting into rooms within seconds without breaking down the door or making much noise at all. Reporter Jeff Rossen booked rooms at four major chains in New Jersey -- Hyatt Place, DoubleTree, Country Inn & Suites, and the Ramada -- and each time they were able to get inside the rooms without a key.
The tool is so small it actually can be hidden inside a marker. It slips right into a little access hole on the bottom of the handle and can be easily used without drawing any attention or suspicion. That is a horrifying thought when you think of all the people who travel with their families this time of the year. You could be sleeping and not even be aware that someone has crept into your room. At best, these thieves just want to rob you; at worst, well, you can imagine the risks. Though, it seems in most cases, they break into rooms when guests are not there.
Even hotel managers are stunned by this. So how are hotels protecting their guests? That's just it -- they aren't, according to Today. It requires hotels to have Onity, the company that created the locks, to fix millions of locks and many locations just haven't done that. For its part, Onity has given some hotels a free plastic cap to cover the hole. But the security expert insists that can be easily removed with a screwdriver. They are also offering to upgrade the locks for a fee.
Despite all of this, the hotel industry insists we are safe, touting the extra security at many hotels. Hmmm. Not quite buying that. If these reporters could easily slip into a room unnoticed, something just isn't right. I am not sure what the solution is, but I for one will be chaining my hotel room door whenever I am inside.
Does this make you question your safety at hotels?