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Why women need to be extra cautious in hotels

Hotels, especially well-known chains with a national reputation for quality, are supposed to be safe places to stay for all kinds of travelers – but women need to be particularly careful.

New reports indicate that sexual predators are using numerous hotel chains as their stalking grounds, and they’re exploiting some longstanding security problems to attack vulnerable women in their own rooms.

“He said he knew you”

According to numerous anecdotal reports, lawsuits and studies, predators are great at looking just like other guests. They’re also experts who take advantage of poorly trained or busy staff members to obtain keycards to individual patron’s rooms, usually by pretending they are with the woman in question.

As one woman was told after a terrifying ordeal where she woke up to find a strange, half-naked man in her room, the front desk staff admitted that they’d given the man a key to her room. “He said he knew you,” was all they could say. Despite policies against giving anybody a spare key to a room (even if they insist they’ve lost their own) without checking identification against the room’s registry, industry insiders say that it happens – often.

It’s no wonder that women have been sharing viral “hacks” for securing their hotel room doors against potential intruders. When locks aren’t enough, women have to get creative with hangers, rolled-up towels and ironing boards used as additional barriers and alerts.

If you are assaulted in a hotel room by someone who should never have been able to access the space, make no mistake: That’s a sign of negligent security on the hotel’s part. It can help to understand your legal options.