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Thursday, January 30, 2003
Updated: January 31, 4:38 PM ET
A new twist on the "all-sweet hotel"

By Patrick Hruby
Special to Page 2

News Item: The University of Arizona is investigating allegations that members of its men's basketball team stole change and up to 80 candy bars from a vending machine in a Lawrence, Kan., hotel last weekend.

Lute Olson
Surely Lute Olson understands the importance of well-bodied shampoo and conditioner.
Whatever happened to stealing shampoo? Or towels, for that matter?

Indeed, the oddest thing about the Wildcats' alleged pilfering isn't that they stole from a hotel -- it's that they stole candy.

Talk about a wasted opportunity.

As any savvy-if-slightly-kleptomaniac business traveler can tell you, the average hotel offers more than Snickers bars and stale Funyuns. Much, much more.

With that in mind, Page 2 takes a closer look at what the 'Cats missed out on:

(Note: This article is for recreational purposes only, and is in no way meant to endorse or encourage theft. That would be wrong, not to mention illegal.)

Towels
Hotel towels
Go ahead, it's not like you're taking a Lexus from a booster.
Swipe-worthiness: Moderate. Unless they're the extra-thick, ultra-plush kind, like the ones Mark Cuban bought for the Dallas Mavericks.

Where to stay: A suite at New York City's Plaza Hotel, where the towels are heated.

The perfect crime: Ask the maid for extras, then stuff them in the team trainer's bag. With any luck, he or she won't notice the difference.

Possible complications: Team trainer never, ever notices the difference; towels end up being used to mop floor sweat during games.


Bathrobes
Hotel robe
It's better to refer to yourself in the third person in a robe.
Swipe-worthiness: High. Some have cool monograms. And who doesn't like to swaddle themselves in terry cloth comfort?

Where to stay: The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz. Terry-lined, cotton pique luxury. In fact, there's one hanging in our closet right now (don't ask how it got there).

The perfect crime: Wear the robe underneath your warmup suit. Tell coaching staff that your summer weight workouts went better than expected.

Possible complications: Hotel robes might provide inadequate, hospital gown-like coverage for players 6-foot-5 and above.


Soap and shampoo
Hotel soaps
Hey, you can play great -- but you can still stink.
Swipe-worthiness: Very high. Basketball is a sweaty game.

Where to stay: The Bellagio in Las Vegas, which carries products from ultra-snooty fragrance company Hermes.

The perfect crime: Concoct an elaborate heist involving bowler hats and an army of Pierce Brosnon lookalikes, a la "The Thomas Crown Affair"; alternately, toss 'em in your carry-on bag like everyone else.

Possible complications: Once you run out -- and trust us, the small bottles mean you will -- it's back to Zest, Pert Plus, or whatever other proletarian hygiene products your roommate likes to buy. Bummer.


Pillows
Colin Montgomerie
"Yes, it's true. I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night."
Swipe-worthiness: Moderate. A good pillow is hard to find. Especially at a hotel.

Where to stay: L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills, the first hotel to offer a pillow menu. Feather? Foamed? Hard? Soft? It's all up to you.

The perfect crime: Bring a pillowcase from home; slide over pillow. Voila, it's yours! (Really, who's going to argue with you?)

Possible complications: Pillows might be a bit too stiff -- or as British golfer Colin Montgomery once wrote in a London Newspaper, "I hate hotel pillows with a vengeance. They are the first things I examine when I go into a hotel room, and my heart sinks when I discover they are too hard." Poor, poor Monty.


Body lotion
Hotel lotion
If it's good enough for the leader of the free world.
Swipe-worthiness: High. The ladies loathe dry patches.

Where to stay: Boston's XV Beacon carries Kiehl's, the same brand used on Air Force One.

The perfect crime: Empty lotion bottle into hands. Rub contents into skin until no longer visible. Walk out of the hotel. No one will ever know.

Possible complications: If your hands are too smooth, you might have a tough time handling the basketball. Those calluses are there for a reason, you know.


Alarm clocks
Hotel clock
Now you can wake up to *Nsync everyday.
Swipe-worthiness: Low. At least half of them don't work. Ask Isiah Rider.

Where to stay: Chicago's Millennium Knickerbocker hotel, where the alarm clocks have built-in CD players.

The perfect crime: Tuck clock under armpit. Tape to body. Run power cord down leg. Try not to look too suspicious.

Possible complications: Remember to remove before reaching the airport; otherwise, you might set off the metal detectors.


Televisions
Hotel TV
Elephants help you relax.
Swipe-worthiness: Low to high, depending on the brand (go with the flat-screen Sonys, stay away from the older Zeniths).

Where to stay: The Burj Al Arab in Dubai, where guest rooms feature 42-inch flat screen plasma displays.

The perfect crime: Disguise yourself as a repairman; tell hotel staff that you're taking the set away because "the Spectravision isn't working."

Possible complications: Flip flops and a practice jersey don't count as a credible disguise; outside of the hotel, the Spectravision really won't work.


Hotel sheet
Luke! C'mon, we know it's you.
Sheets
Swipe-worthiness: Moderate. If nothing else, good for toga parties back on campus.

Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans. 300-thread count, baby.

The perfect crime: Cut eye holes in the sheet. Place it over your body. Go to front desk. Yell "trick or treat." Guess what? You'll get some free candy, too! (Note: This only works on Halloween).

Possible complications: If a disgustingly memorable episode of "20-20" is any indication, sheets might by stained with, er, bodily excretions.


Coffee packets
Hotel coffee
Why not? This stuff has pretty high street value.
Swipe-worthiness: High. But only if it's Starbucks.

Where to stay: The Palo Alto Sheraton, which offers Starbucks.

The perfect crime: Just stuff it in your pockets. It's yours to take, anyway.

Possible complications: Coffee isn't good for you and could stunt your growth. Stick to something safer, like cigarettes.


Vending machines
Swipe-worthiness: Off the charts. The gift that keeps on giving. At least 'til it's empty.

Where to stay: Anywhere.

The perfect crime: Lift machine; lower out of hotel window to a waiting teammate.

Possible complications: The average vending machine can weigh more than 300 pounds, enough to crush a man. Enlist the help of a walk-on.

Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times. You can reach him at phrub@yahoo.com.