Hotel prankster has guests tossing TVs out the window - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Hotel prankster has guests tossing TVs out the window

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A man is terrorizing hotels across the country by impersonating a front desk clerk and convincing guests to do bizarre things.

From throwning television sets out the window to pulling fire alarms and setting off sprinkler systems, guests convinced they were in danger have wreaked havoc in their hotels.

Imagine you're in your hotel room and the phone rings. A frantic caller who claims to be from the front desk says there's a gas leak. He instructs you to unplug all electronic devices and hurl them out the window.

That exact scenario happened recently to a guest at a New Orleans hotel. She was stopped by police.  

"A lot of times the guests or employees were gullible enough to just react to the caller's instructions and break windows and set off sprinklers," said Ralph Ney with the Hospitality Management Association.

And it's happening in hotels across the country. In California and Arkansas, the damage has reached $50,000.

Managers at the Madison, Peabody and Marriott hotels in Downtown Memphis say they've heard of the prank, but it hasn't happened here so far.

A manager at the Marriott said that when there's an emergency, staff members do not call guests' rooms. Instead, a loud, recorded message that instructs guests is activated.  

He also says that if someone wants to call a particular room, they must know the name of the guest or they won't be transferred.

Hotel managers say they're doing their best to ensure guests don't become pranksters' targets.

"It's hard to stop it completely," said Louisiana hotel manager Damien Hirsch. "You really can't because whoever is doing it is pretty creative."

Hotel managers say that unless you're expecting a call from the front desk, hang up the phone.

They say you could be liable for whatever you destroy in the room - even if you thought you were saving your life.   
The prankster faces felony charges if caught.


Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly