Dear Waldorf, Mummy Stole Your Teapot in 1935
This headline in the New York Times of September 26, 2012 tells the story of the Waldorf-Astoria's amnesty program: "Do you have a souvenir from New York's legendary Waldorf-Astoria hotel that perhaps you shouldn't have?"
Matt Zolbe, Director of Sales and Marketing, said that the hotel did not start the amnesty program because it needed used silverware but because it was looking for attention on social media. He reported that about 15 people returned items such as silverware, coffee pots, coasters and teapots before the program ended on September 15th.
On the same subject, my research turned up the following report in The American Hotel by Jefferson Williamson (published in 1930 by Alfred A. Knopf):
There is the guest who carries away "souvenir" spoons and other trifles, such as towels, sheets, rugs, lamp-shades, electric bulbs ̶anything and everything that is portable and can be pried loose. One New York hotel loses nearly two thousand napkins a month, worth $1.25 a piece. Another New York hotel reports a loss of $78,000 a year by thefts. A third figures about eighty cents average loss per guest, and still another has found that about one out of every six hundred steal. During a national convention of women in Cleveland a few years ago one hotel is said to have lost six hundred demi-tasse spoons. The losses from theft at this hotel two years ago amounted to $33,000. The secretary of the Ohio Hotels Association gathered figures showing that the hotels in its membership lost approximately twenty thousand towels a year. One could go on endlessly citing similar figures. All large hotels have heavy losses. It is part of the overhead. These losses are not caused by any particular type of guest, but by all classes. Three or four years ago the Milwaukee Railroad opened a resort hotel in Montana. Many invited guests were present, all people of prominence. The losses by theft on that occasion amounted to $1,800.