Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint at her Paris apartment last night by a group of masked thieves, who tied her up and locked her in a bathroom before making off with $10 million worth of jewelry.
The thieves, who reportedly approached the building in police uniforms, were given access to the Hotel de Pourtalès, a townhouse known as a "hôtel particulier" in the fashionable 8th arrondissement, by a concierge at 2:30 a.m. local time. The assailants handcuffed the employee, who led them to the star's apartment at gunpoint. Kardashian's husband Kanye West, who reportedly owns the flat in the townhouse that's previously to other celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Madonna, cut short his concert at the Meadows Music and Arts Festival in New York: "I'm sorry, family emergency, I have to stop the show," he told the audience before abruptly leaving the stage.
The horrifying circumstances beg the question of whether the reality star might have been safer in a luxury hotel like the recently reopened a few blocks away.
"A luxury hotel would likely have perimeter security cameras and guards, plainclothes clothes security officers walking the halls, and more possibilities of people coming in and out of the hallways," says Stephen Barth, a hotel attorney and professor of hospitality law at the University of Houston. Those security guards "are almost always going to be ex-law enforcement at a pretty high level of training."
At a luxury hotel, the security staff have "a practiced eye" for identifying people and verifying the credentials of someone who identifies himself as a police officer, says Barth, who's also the founder of and producer of an annual travel risk management conference. Large luxury hotels are used to dealing with celebrity security teams. Security cameras would be in place at a hotel, too, starting at the perimeter and in all the public areas, and ideally they'd be monitored both from the inside the property and remotely. "If something looked awry, people could be notified immediately," he says.
In addition, a luxury hotel would often "have plainclothes security monitoring hallways, walking the space, and oftentimes they'll be armed." A bigger hotel also means more activity in the halls, "which makes it a little more challenging to pull off a robbery like this. As a potential criminal, you just don't know what you're going to run into or run up against. There are more possibilities of people coming in and out of hallways, calling for room service, and just more eyeballs in the area."
Then there's the door itself. While we don't know what type of key was required to enter Kardashian West's apartment, Barth points out that many rental apartments have a simple deadbolt, whereas luxury hotel rooms typically have both a deadbolt and a safety bar on each guestroom door. To be fair, he notes, the presence of these features doesn't ensure that a guest will use them.
A hotel key is typically more secure as well, since top hotels "are going to rekey the door after every stay assuming they have an electronic lock system or RFID system" used with cell phones.
Past the door, there's a piece of safety equipment that can be invaluable: the phone. That may seem obvious and redundant given the ubiquity of cell phones today, but Barth points out that cell phones aren't always programmed to call emergency numbers abroad and there is no universal global emergency number. (The State Department has a of international emergency s, and they're far from uniform.)
And while hotels don't have the level of security of a bank, Kardashian's millions of dollars of jewelry—including a 15-carat diamond ring she on Snapchat hours before the robbery—probably would have been safer in safe deposit box or small vault that luxury hotels typically make available to guests .
So would Kardashian West have been better off at a hotel?
"I don't know everything that was there at the apartment where she stayed so it's impossible for me to make that kind of judgment," Barth says, "but from what we know, without having inspected the apartment and understanding the level of security that she had, it would appear that the luxury hotel would have been the better choice on this stay."
With reporting by the Associated Press