Towel thieves, consider yourselves warned. Those handy travel-sized hotel towels may be useful to take with you (and not bring back) when you head out for a day at the beach, but soon that will no longer be an option.
Hotels nationwide have tired of a trend that leaves them missing 5 to 20% of their towels in any given month.
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Enter Linen Technology Tracking, a Miami-based company that patented a washable Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip for hotels to sew into towels, robes and bed sheets. The chip can trigger an alarm if a guest tries to take a tagged item from the premises. The New York Times reports that three hotels in Honolulu, Manhattan and Miami have introduced the system but wish to remain unnamed.
William Serbin, the executive Vice President of Linen Technology Tracking tells the New York Times that high cotton prices led to costlier towels which served as motivation for developing an anti-theft system. He adds that the technology has a double purpose — in addition to catching thieves, it helps hotels monitor linen demand and adjust their supply accordingly.
It’s a successful system. The Honolulu hotel has saved nearly $15,000 since implementing the tags last summer and their monthly towel theft is now less than a quarter of what it was before. Can travelers hope for rapid rate reductions as a result? Probably not, but NewsFeed can dream.
(More on TIME.com: See the world traveler tell-all)