By Brian Maass

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – A veteran hotel security consultant concluded a Westminster hotel created a “toxic environment of unreasonable risk,” leading to the theft of 10 cars belonging to guests in 2019. The assessment from Brad Bonnell with the Georgia-based Hotel Security Group came during a lawsuit filed by four hotel guests of the Westminster Westin hotel, whose cars were stolen during the crime spree.

The two thieves, who were eventually caught, used information from one of the cars to burglarize the owners’ home while she was still at the hotel.

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Donna Brosemer, one of the plaintiffs whose car was stolen, said “I think most people would take their lumps and go away. And that was expected.”

Brosemer says she and the other guests are angry over what they perceive as dismissive treatment by the hotel, and are not going away. The general manager of the hotel did not respond to a message left this week by CBS4 and the hotel attorney did not respond to an email from the station.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 1, 2019, car thieves entered the hotel lobby three times according to police, and helped themselves to keys from cars that had been valet parked. The box holding the keys was apparently unlocked.

(credit: CBS)

Police said the 10 stolen cars were valued at about $234,842. After the hotel insisted the car theft victims not only pay for their stays but also for the valet parking, four of the victims filed suit. They are representing themselves and a judge has set a trial date for May 19.

“Our losses were real and the negligence was real,” said Brosemer.

The plaintiffs asked Bonnell to assess the hotel’s security procedures, and he issued a scathing report, writing that the hotel failed “to exercise reasonable care. The Westin Hotel was not operating in a manner consistent with common and reasonably accepted practices of hospitality safety and security.”

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Bonnell said that the hotel could have prevented the theft if it had rudimentary security procedures in place. He noted that when Westminster police were at the hotel hours after the theft, they were allowed to view security video of what happened by a hotel employee.

The hotel later said the video had been taped over and it no longer existed, even though police had filed a written request for the video that same morning.

“It does not exist,” wrote the hotel. “The hotel security video at the time recorded over itself.”

(credit: CBS)

Bonnell said, “Failing to preserve critical evidence after having been specifically asked to do so by the police exposes an extraordinary level of negligence.”

Bonnell called the apparently unsecure valet car key lock box “an unmitigated vulnerability that could be exploited by criminals.” He termed the hotel’s security “incoherent.”

The hotel has said the valet key box had been locked about an hour before the thieves arrived, but there was no evidence it was broken into and no damage according to police reports.

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Asked if the lawsuit is about “being made whole” or making a point with the hotel, Brosemer said “It has evolved into both being compensated for loss and making a point. This is how you can be treated by a big hotel chain that figures they can run you out of time and money.”

Brian Maass