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1/14/03

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Towel, Shower Cap Missing From Hotel Room


SANTA FRANCESCA, Calif. (DPI): Stumped by the disappearance of a towel and shower cap from room 217, the staff and management of the Ramada-East are leaving no stone unturned. The hotel's linen and amenity were reported missing Wednesday morning by housekeeper Maria Ortiz. Clearly shaken from the ordeal, Ortiz would not comment about the ordeal. "No speak English, thank you," she said. But it was obvious that her mind was focused on the case as she put the sanitation strip across the sink rather than the toilet.

We've got our best men on this one," said Chief Rod Taylor of the Santa Francesca Police Department. We've found several fingerprints, but it may be tougher than we thought. It seems like at least 20 different people have been in this room this month. We brought in the canine unit, but so far the only thing the dogs have found is a dinner roll stuck behind the headboard."

Dan Lang, the hotel's manager, said he has never seen anything like this in his 14 years in the industry. "It may have been an inside job," he said. "A towel doesn't just walk off on its own. And the shower cap is even more curious. I can understand someone forgetting to take it off their head when they check out, but we should have at least found the shower-cap wrapper. This is worse than when the fire alarm somehow went off while that youth hockey team was here. I had to apologize to every one of those nice kids."

Police contacted Robert Frapples, the last guest to stay in room 217, to see if he might have seen anything suspicious. "I didn't take that stuff," said the former guest. "I don't know what you're talking about. And I didn't order those movies either. How did you get this number?"

Frapples reportedly never complained during his stay that his room had no towel. Police have determined that the guest must not have showered. "Maybe he's French or something," said Taylor. "There were no signs of forced entry. The perpetrator may have entered the room while the guest was getting ice. That propped-open door is an invitation to a criminal."

Until the case has been solved, guests will be required to sign out all towels, soaps and toilet paper from the front desk. All housekeeping staff and delivery personnel must be searched upon leaving the property. The ACLU has come out against the new policy and will represent the employees in a class-action lawsuit.

"I guess we might have been willing to look the other way over a washcloth, but if we let a towel go missing, soon a pillow will be gone, and then it's just anarchy," said manager Lang.

The purchasing department at Ramada corporate headquarters in Parsippany, N.J., have approved a new towel and cap to be shipped to the Santa Francesca location, creating a $5.75 deficit in the budget. "We may be forced to increase our rates," warned Judith Zimmer, the vice president who purchased the replacement items. "It's our guests who are the real victims here."

Police remain optimistic they will crack the case or that someone in town will report seeing a towel bearing the name "Ramada." But for now, they say, anyone with very dry hair remains a suspect.



(Reported by Buddy Fisher)



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