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What Have Hotels Learned About Peeping Toms?

While the case of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, who was spied on and photographed in her hotel room at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University, seemed to spark the interest of the country, such crimes don't happen to just celebrities. A recent case in Nebraska shows that another peeping Tom installed a camera in the hotel wall and filmed a Nebraska family staying at a Marriott TownePlace Suites Denver Tech Center in Englewood, Colo. A man, his wife and his 11- and 15-year-old daughters were staying in the room.

David Lee Fugate, 41, from Virginia pleaded guilty to wiretapping and was given two months of probation. One legal expert, according to the Denver Post, said that law hasn't caught up to the latest video technology.

In the wake of the Andrews case, hotels began security changes. According to court records, Andrews' alleged peeper, Michael D. Barrett, reportedly asked to have a room adjacent to Andrews and was given one by hotel staff. Barrett then is suspected of sawing and removing the peephole of her hotel room door to film Andrews will a cellphone while she was changing clothes.

Asking for a neighboring room may be usual for family, but someone asking for a room near a celebrity? Doesn't this cause some alarm bells to ring? Apparently, not so much.

"There is no consistent policy within individual brands or across the industry," John Burns, president of Hospitality Technology Consulting in Scottsdale, Ariz. told the Associated Press. "It is in the hotel industry's cultural DNA to attempt to satisfy guests' 'adjacent room' or 'connecting room' requests."

While the Andrews case caused some hotels to change that policy, there's no proof it's become industry standard. However, any such request, not by a family member should be OK'd with the other guest -- that should be Hotel Security 101.

As for the TownePlace Suites, management company Sage Hospitality of Denver, said that that security was of the "utmost importance" for the hotel. However, so far, no new security measures have been reported.

In some ways, this is will be difficult for hotels. Will they have security officers clearing rooms for drilled holes in the walls or spy cameras set up in windows or doors? The quest for privacy in an increasingly electronic world has become a challenge, but hotels will have to rise to the occasion or face numerous lawsuits as they try to catch up.

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