Ideahotel Milano Lorenteggio

At eight o’clock on the morning of 22 August 2012, a Russian guest called Vladimir Pekhterev and his wife were checking out of the Ideahotel Milano Lorenteggio at Via Lorenteggio 278 in Milan. Vladimir left his three bags in full view of the reception area, while he returned his keys and then stepped into the breakfast room for a cappuccino. When he returned, he found only two bags where there had previously been three – his rucksack had been stolen. Inside the rucksack were two Russian passports, driving licences, three credit cards, a mobile phone (costing €250), digital camera (€875), tablet (€300), GPS navigator (€300), wallet with money (€500) and some items of clothing.

The missing rucksack was immediately reported to the receptionists, who seemed strangely unconcerned or even surprised that a crime had taken place in their hotel – and right under their very noses. A video camera was installed right at the scene of the crime. Vladimir asked the receptionists, who spoke poor English, if he could view the recording and see what had actually happened, but was told, bizarrely, that only the police had the right to do this.

At first, after reporting the crime to the receptionists, Vladimir thought that the police had been called and were coming to the hotel, but this was not so. In fact, as it turned out, it was the duty of the guests to go all the way to the police station themselves and report a crime which had taken place on the territory of the Ideahotel Milano Lorenteggio! Vladimir and his wife started to panic, because they were supposed to be flying back to Russia that very morning and had no money for transport. The receptionists only reacted when an English-speaking couple intervened and said that the very least that the hotel could do was to order a taxi to send Vladimir and his wife to the police to report the crime.

At the police station, an offer duly took a note of the theft and sent a copy of his report to the Russian consulate in Milan. The policeman then telephoned the Ideahotel Milano Lorenteggio about the video camera recording. This time, the receptionists gave a very different answer. Now, they claimed that the camera was not switched on and so there was no video recording to watch...

Vladimir left the police station in frustration and went out onto the street, where he ran into a couple from Moscow, also the victims of crime in Milan. They very kindly lent Vladimir and his wife the necessary money to take a taxi directly to the airport, from where they managed to catch their plane and fly back to their home in St Petersburg.

Back in Russia, Vladimir contacted his telephone company and found out that a number of calls had been made from his mobile telephone after it had been stolen. These numbers were international and were +34632056736 (a long conversation to a number in Spain, possibly about the successful crime just committed), +34632453189 (Spain), +34698783697 (Spain), +4915213389950 (Germany), +51946366243 (Peru) and +4915210588977 (Germany).

We decided to do our own investigation and called the following numbers ourselves. The only number to be answered was the last one, in Germany, although it turned out that the person who answered was from Ecuador. He was unable to answer our questions in English and, when we called a second time, all we got was a recorded message.

We contacted Adriano Gissi, resident manager of the Ideahotel Milano Lorenteggio, with this evidence, which we felt could help to uncover the thief. What was a Spanish-speaking citizen of possibly Ecuador or Peru doing at the hotel around 8 am? Either it was another guest, who would have been obliged to give the hotel his full passport information, or possibly an hotel worker (hotel shifts typically end and begin around this time).

Instead of showing any interest in our findings, Adriano Gissi fobbed Vladimir off with the suggestion that it was best not to investigate the crime just yet, but to try and claim back the cost of the stolen items on the hotel insurance. Gissi asked Vladimir to send him a copy of the “police denunciation” to open the insurance case. After a long and protracted correspondence, Vladimir was finally told by Mattia Ottolini of Unipol Assicurazioni that “it is not possible for us to give a positive answer to your refund request, because … the stolen baggage was [not] given in custody to the reception/receptionist (to the left luggage deposit room of the hotel).”

We naturally assumed that no compensation would be forthcoming, but what we do not understand is the persistent refusal of the Ideahotel Milano Lorenteggio to investigate a crime which had taken place on its territory – particularly when evidence had been uncovered which could, ultimately, lead to the thief. One cannot help suspecting that the Ideahotel Milano Lorenteggio knowingly lets people walk in off the street – or possibly employs illegal immigrants from South America. In such a scenario, the hotel would either be liable to large fines if it employs staff illegally or subject to adverse publicity if it is known that anyone can simply walk into the hotel from the street and steal the belongings of guests – directly from under the noses of the receptionists, without fear of being spotted and recorded on the video camera.

There is clearly more to this story than meets the eye. All we can do, for now, it is to suggest that Adriano Gissi in future takes a more pro-active approach to tracking down the thieves who prey with such impunity on the guests staying at his hotel. And we suggest that everyone else thinks twice about booking a room at the Ideahotel Milano Lorenteggio.

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