Holiday Inn's towel thieves confess their sins

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The Independent US

One man took his as a souvenir of his honeymoon, another person took one to dry the dog. Yet another ended up being used as a makeshift costume for a child's school play.

However they got used, countless thousands of towels were stolen from American hotels and motels last year - a habit that has probably been going on for as long as there have been hotels from which to steal them. But while towel theft may be nothing new, a "towel amnesty" proclaimed by a hotel chain was probably the first such opportunity for the thieves to "fess up" and come clean.

Mark Snyder, an advertising manager for the Holiday Inn chain, which organised the amnesty as a piece of self-confessed marketing, said: "Everyone has a Holiday Inn story, and some of those stories involve our towels going home with our guests. We're not asking for them back. We don't want people living with guilt, so we're simply letting Americans know that all is forgiven."

Since the amnesty was announced earlier this year, the chain has been gathering stories from people who stole towels and felt the need to explain why they took them.

"I believe my towel comes from the Fifties. In fact, so long ago I don't remember how I got it, but I suppose it did follow me home," wrote Marcelle Roise, of Alamo, California. "It is my dog's towel, and she is the 3rd generation of dogs to use it."

Raul Malacara, from Monterrey, Texas, wrote: "I took my first and only (I swear) Holiday Inn towel from the suite at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Monterrey, Mexico, where I spent my first honeymoon night. I took it as a memento ... along the way I have lost the girl, but I still have the towel!"

Mr Snyder estimated that the Holiday Inn, which traditionally used its green striped logo on its towels, loses about 500,000 such items to light fingers every year. The chain, like most others, has since stopped using the logo. Mr Snyder said he believed this has actually helped to reduce the number being stolen. He said: "Most hotel towels were more interesting 20 or 30 years ago when they had the name of the hotel on them."