Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some More Stories From A Former Hotel Detective Or House Dick As They Used To Be Known

Click on the picture above to enlarge them.
The link below is to some good info on Hotel Detectives.

I was lucky enough to be a Hotel Detective at one of the very best hotels in Washington, D.C. It is the Shoreham Hotel. It has been a landmark in Washington, D.C. since it was built in 1929. It was an upper class hotel back then with riding stables and a full service garage and service station in the underground parking garage. Rudy Vallee came down from New York for the grand opening in 1929.

Later Bob Hope used Suite B120 every time he came to Washington D.C. as his home away from home.
The New York Yankees used to stay there when they came to town to play the Washington Senators. But that was before my time.

By the time I went to work at The Shoreham it had become a convention hotel. Back in the old days there was no need for a security force. I was told back in the old days there was only one House Detective(or House Dick) and he was an old friend of the owner. The hotel orignally was also an apartment hotel and even when I went to work there in 1977 there were still a handful of permanent residents.

     #1: Someone was breaking in the pinball machines in the Game Room and stealing all the money.
This was in 1977 before the advent of more modern electronic games.
I decided to catch whoever it was. We had been patrolling the area but it was located in a remote room at the end of a remote corridor.
One night I went in a saw that a machine had been broken into. I walked back toward the Lobby and came to a Men's Room at the end of that corridor. I went in and saw no one. But my wife had told me that Columbo (the TV detective played by the actor Peter Falk) always got down on his hands and knees to look for things and get a better view. So I knelt down and looked under the stalls. I saw several stacks of quarters and the bottom of two legs. Someone was stacking up the quarters and counting them.
So I said to the person come out. It was a teenager.  He admitted breaking in the machines. I found out he was staying in the hotel with his parents. So went up to their room and I explained the situation to them.
I did write a report but I dont think we bothered to call the police. His parents said they would make sure it would not happen again.

#2. When I came to work one day at the Shoreham the boss showem me a box of what looked like costume jewelery and asked me if I knew anything about it. I told him no.
  One of the guys from the night before had left it in his desk thinking it was cotume jewelry. It had been turned in by the Chipnese Banquet waiter named Chang. Chang told him if there was a reward he wanted it.
It had been left at a party the night before.
   Later that evening I got a call from a man from Philadelphia, Pa.  He said his wife had lost some jewelry and was worth ten thousand dollars. He wanted us to send it to him. I told him no he would have to come and get it and prove it was his and sign for it.   He said he would come down on the train the next day.

I told the night security who had received it from Chang and put it in the desk of the boss what had happened.  He said why did I tell the man we had it. He said he could use that money. He was an active duty Marine by the way.
I left it at that. I must have also told the boss what was going on with this found property.
The next day I learned the man had come down and given a large reward to the Marine who claimed he found it. And the Marine gave nothing to Chang. Well Chang got wind of what had happened and complained to the Boss and the Hotel Manager.   After everything came out Chang got some money and the Marine was fired.

More stories to follow soon. Stay tuned.

I worked in hotels before the advent of security cameras. We did not have any. And even if we did there are simply too many places where cameras could not be used. We had to patrol the whole propery.
Mostly what we did at the Shoreham was do whatever we were asked to do by management. We had a bunch of old retired military and retired cops working there. Sometimes they hired young guys who went on to become full time cops.

  At Washington Plaza they hired a quite a few retired old guys from the Old Soldiers Home. The official name is The Soldiers and Airmen Home in Washington D.C.
It was built before the Civil War. The money for it came from a fine General Winfield Scott(old Fuss and Feathers)imposed on the defeated Mexicans after the war with Mexico. The fined them 150,000 dollars. The money was used to build the Old Soldiers Home in Washington D.C.
   I visited that place several times. It is a real interesting place. Read about it below.