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B.C. man leaves hotel patio door unlocked, claims burglary

B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal said the hotel guest awoke to find his luggage, laptop, passport and wallet missing.
No stolen items will be reimbursed after a hotel patio door was left unlocked, B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal has ruled.

A man who left his hotel room door open and woke up to find his luggage, laptop, passport and wallet gone won’t be getting any money from the resort he was staying at.

Joseph Harris had gone to stay at a True Key Hotels & Resorts Ltd. property on Feb. 18, 2022. After he found his belongings missing, he filed a small claims action with the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal.

In her Feb. 14 decision, tribunal vice-chair Andrea Ritchie said Harris sought $1,132 in compensation from True Key. That amount, claimed Harris, is the value of his property minus what his insurance company paid him. It also includes depreciation, compensation for trauma and the value of his electronic data.

True Key said it was Harris’s negligence that led to his belongings being stolen. It said Harris had already been compensated by his insurance company and denied it owed him anything.

According to its website, the company operates multiple properties in the Rockies, at Harrison Hot Springs and on Vancouver Island. The decision does not identify the property.

Harris’s room was burglarized while he slept. He reported the situation to staff, who called police.

True Key said it has electronic door locks on its suites. The company provided a printout from its door system that showed Harris's door was opened and closed at 5:21 p.m. and then again at 6:44 a.m.

"There is no indication anyone other than Mr. Harris entered the room through the suite's electronic door. There were also no signs of forced entry," states the tribunal's decision. 

True Key said Harris left his ground floor patio door unlocked, and that's likely how the intruder entered.

Harris argued True Key failed to ensure he could safely sleep in his room without his life or property being endangered.

The company relied on the Hotel Keepers Act, which says no innkeeper is liable for a guest’s loss of or injury to property brought to the inn unless the property was stolen, lost, or injured by the innkeeper’s wilful act, default, or neglect, or if it was deposited directly with the innkeeper for safe keeping.

"I find there is simply no evidence True Key was negligent,” Ritchie said. “Harris does not deny he left the ground floor patio door unlocked and I accept that he did.”

Ritchie noted Harris did not say how True Key could have done things differently to protect his property.

“I find Mr. Harris has not shown True Key was negligent or should be held responsible for his stolen belongings,” she said.

And, Ritchie said, even if she had found True Key negligent, Harris provided no original receipts or replacement cost for the missing items or any information about how much he has been reimbursed by his insurance company to date, or the amount of his insurance deductible.

“I would have dismissed Mr. Harris’s claim for damages as unproven in any event,” she said.

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