The ‘souvenirs’ punters take away from Cork hotels and bars

Toilet seats, bar stools and a monkey statue were among the most unusual items reported stolen from Cork pubs and hotels struggling to cope with mischievous customers.

It comes as a number of businesses across the city and county admit to shelling out hundreds of dollars a year to make up for the seemingly endless number of items stolen from under their noses.

The phrase ‘everything that isn’t nailed down’ doesn’t apply to Cork’s new breed of thieves, some of whom have brought screwdrivers to tackle tougher objects.

James Casey of Casey’s Bar and Restaurant, Clonakilty, can attest to that. He described how a customer came armed with a screwdriver to remove a toilet seat from the establishment.

Meanwhile, Ernest Cantillon, owner of Sober Lane and the Electric Bar and Restaurant, complained about bar stools being stolen following bouts of alcohol-fueled spontaneity.

Describing a bizarre experience with a thief, owner of a bar and a restaurant, James Casey recalls: “I will never forget when, at the end of one night, we discovered that a seat was missing from bathroom.

“It was a very clean and professional job that could only have been done with a screwdriver. It was so professional in fact that we feel the guy had to be a plumber by trade or at least a handyman.

“The crazy thing is that when we looked at the CCTV footage, no one saw coming out the door with a toilet seat. He must have stuffed it in his jumper, although I don’t know How could he do this undetected.

James Casey, Owner, Casey’s Bar & Restaurant, Clonakilty.Photo: Denis Minihane.

“We feel he must have done it either as a challenge or as a prank, because there’s no way he had any use for it once he got home. Luckily we were able to laugh about it, but it’s a pain because that stuff can be annoying to replace.

Ernest Cantillon also had his fair share of thieving clients. Some opt for artwork while others are more practical, favoring items like toilet paper.

“All of our artwork is by a local artist named Jason O’Gorman,” Mr. Cantillon said.

“What’s weird is that people manage to steal his work because it’s screwed into the wall. I always send her a video when it’s taken.

“While that’s flattering to him, it costs us money to replace them. Nonetheless, we still take it as a compliment and view it as the cost of doing business.”

Bar stools are also popular.

“It’s not like someone looks at a stool and thinks ‘that would be good for my breakfast bar’. They’re just after pints and see that more as the devil than stealing. He explained that they weren’t the only ones fond of the “monkey business”.

    Ernest Cantillon, owner of Sober Lane and the Electric Bar and Restaurant, complained about bar stools being stolen following bouts of alcohol-fueled spontaneity.  Photo: Denis Scannell
Ernest Cantillon, owner of Sober Lane and the Electric Bar and Restaurant, complained about bar stools being stolen following bouts of alcohol-fueled spontaneity. Photo: Denis Scannell

“We had statues of three monkeys outside the pub and when one was stolen we put out an appeal on Facebook asking for it to be returned safely. This person left it outside the door after the request CCTV footage shows him hiding his face with a hoodie but even if we knew who the person was we wouldn’t have reported them We’re just glad they did the right thing .

Mr. Cantillon listed a few other popular items.

“We opt for sachets because ketchup bottles tend to work. We also see a lot of toilet paper rolls disappearing. When people think of things missing in bars and restaurants, they automatically think of students.

“Nevertheless, you would often see those that many would perceive as older, more sophisticated crowd-sweeping objects. At Electric restaurant, our crystal soy containers often disappear just because people think they would look good at home.

Imperial Hotel manager Bastien Peyraud said the company has taken to tagging items they believe will be stolen for advertising purposes. That could be said for the cocktail mats at their Sketch cocktail bar.

“It’s like we’re expecting the customer to take something,” Peyraud said.

Bastien Peyraud, General Manager, Imperial Hotel, Cork, outside the hotel.  Photo Denis Minihane.
Bastien Peyraud, General Manager, Imperial Hotel, Cork, outside the hotel. Photo Denis Minihane.

“Instead of complaining, we made it a win-win situation. If someone picks up one of our rugs, it’s branded with us to ensure you see us all the time. We consider it smart marketing. It is also something beautiful for a customer if he insists on taking a “souvenir”. It’s better than having a mat with a brand like Guinness on it because that way it’s personal to us. I spotted one while visiting a “friend of a friend” and even complimented it.”

The other customers, he laughs, are a little less discreet.

“We had someone steal a two and a half meter nutcracker decoration at Christmas. A member of staff approached him as he was walking away with it and said “Excuse me”. He just dropped it and ran down the street so we’ll never know why he wanted it.

Meanwhile, Michael O’Donovan, owner of the Castle Inn in Cork, said he had to replace 24 glasses in the space of two weeks due to mischievous behavior.

“If I get unusual or fancy glasses, they don’t seem to last. Someone always thinks it would be good at home. There are people who think that just because they pay for the drink, the glass is theirs too. You see this with all walks of life. It’s just one of the particular perks of the jobs. The funny thing is, you never see ordinary glasses go away.

Meanwhile, Trigon Hotels managing director Aaron Mansworth said while there are no reports of items being stolen from hotels, they are often returned. He mentioned how they regularly mail packages containing TV remotes that were mistakenly brought home in a guest’s luggage.