Ketchup bottles, toilet seats and artwork: The ‘souvenirs’ that punters take from Cork's hotels and bars

Glasses, bar-stools and toilet seats are among some of the items robbed from bars and hotels in Cork city, Sarah Horgan hears..
Ketchup bottles, toilet seats and artwork: The ‘souvenirs’ that punters take from Cork's hotels and bars

Close up shot of beer and snacks (peanuts, popcorn) on the barrel table in a pub

TOILET seats, bar stools and a statue of a monkey were among the more unusual items reported stolen from Cork pubs and hotels struggling to deal with mischievous customers.

It comes as a number of businesses in the city and county confess to forking out hundreds of euro a year to compensate for the seemingly endless number of items being swiped from under their noses.

The expression “anything that isn’t nailed down” does not apply to Cork’s new breed of rogues, some of whom have brought screwdrivers to tackle more stubborn objects.

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

Meanwhile, Ernest Cantillon, who owns the Sober Lane and the Electric Bar and Restaurant, complained of bar stools being stolen following alcohol fuelled bouts of spontaneity.

Describing a bizarre experience with one thief, bar and restaurant owner, James Casey recalled: “I’ll never forget when at the end of one night we discovered a toilet seat was missing. 

"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 reckon the guy must have been a plumber by trade or at least a handyman.

“The mad thing was that when we looked at the CCTV footage there was nobody seen walking out the door with a toilet seat. He must have had it stuffed up his jumper even though I’m not sure how he could have done that undetected.

James Casey, owner, Casey's Bar & Restaurant, Clonakilty.Picture: Denis Minihane.
James Casey, owner, Casey's Bar & Restaurant, Clonakilty.Picture: Denis Minihane.

“We reckon he must have went through with it either as a dare or a prank because there is no way he would have had any use for it when he got home. Luckily, we were able to laugh about it but it is a pain as these kind of things can be annoying to replace.”

Ernest Cantillon has also experienced his fair share of thieving customers. Some opt for artwork while others are more practical, favouring items like toilet roll.

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

“What’s bizarre is that people are able to steal his work because it is screwed into the wall. I always send him a video when one is taken. 

"While it’s flattering for him, it does cost us money to replace them. Nonetheless, we still take it as a compliment and look at it as the cost of doing business.”

Bar stools also prove popular.

“It’s not like someone looks at a stool and thinks ‘that would be nice for my breakfast bar’. They are just after pints and see it more like devilment than stealing.” He explained that they weren’t the only ones partial to ‘monkey business’.

 Ernest Cantillon, who owns the Sober Lane and the Electric Bar and Restaurant, complained of bar stools being stolen following alcohol fuelled bouts of spontaneity. Picture: Denis Scannell
Ernest Cantillon, who owns the Sober Lane and the Electric Bar and Restaurant, complained of bar stools being stolen following alcohol fuelled bouts of spontaneity. Picture: Denis Scannell

“We had statues of three monkeys outside the pub and when one was stolen we put out an appeal on Facebook requesting its safe return. That person left it outside the door after the request was posted. 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 happy that they did the right thing.”

Mr Cantillon listed some other popular items.

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

“Nonetheless, you’d often see those who many would perceive as the older and more sophisticated crowd swiping items. In the Electric restaurant our crystal soya holders often go missing simply because people think they would look nice in their homes.”

Manager of the Imperial Hotel, Bastien Peyraud said the business has taken to branding items they predict will be stolen for advertising purposes. This could be said for their branded Sketch cocktail bar’s cocktail mats.

“It’s like we are planning for the customer to take something,” Mr Peyraud said.

Bastien Peyraud, general manager, the Imperial Hotel, Cork, in front of the hotel. Picture Denis Minihane.
Bastien Peyraud, general manager, the Imperial Hotel, Cork, in front of the hotel. Picture Denis Minihane.

“Instead of complaining we have made it a win-win situation. If someone takes one of our mats it has our branding to ensure you are seeing us all the time. We see it as clever marketing. It’s also something beautiful for a customer to have if they insist on taking a ‘souvenir’. It’s better than having a mat with a brand like Guinness on it because this way it’s personal to us. I spotted one when visiting the home of a ‘friend of a friend’ and even complimented them on it.”

Other customers, he laughed, are a little less inconspicuous.

“We did have one person steal a two and half metre 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 will never know why he wanted it.”

Meanwhile, Michael O’Donovan, who owns the Castle Inn in Cork city, said he had to replace 24 glasses in the space of two weeks due to roguish behaviour.

“If I get unusual or fancy glasses they don’t seem to last. Someone always thinks it would be nice at home. There are some people who think that just because they pay for the drink the glass is also theirs. You see this with all walks of life. It’s just one of the peculiar perks of the jobs. The funny thing is that you never see the plain glasses going missing.”

Meanwhile, Managing Director of Trigon Hotels, Aaron Mansworth said that while there are no reports of items being stolen from hotels, they are often returned. He mentioned how they are regularly posted parcels containing television remote controls that were mistakenly brought home in a guest’s luggage.

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