Can a hotel be responsible for a firearm stolen out of a car in their parking lot?

I am in the process of moving my family and I out to another state for the military. We were staying at an extended stay hotel waiting to close on a house, and my truck was broken into in the hotel parking lot. I was forced to keep my handgun in my truck because the hotel has a policy which doesn’t allow firearms inside. They also have signs saying that there are cameras outside, which there are absolutely none. Can the hotel hold any liability against my stolen firearm since I had no other place to put it due to their policy or because they have no security in a high crime area?

Asked on June 24, 2012 under Business Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, they are most likely not liable. As a general rule, a person or business is not responsible for the criminal actions of third parties not under its control. Sometimes you can establish liability, if you can show unreasonable carelessness which led to the loss; to do that here, you'd have to show 1) that it was unreasonable to not actually have cameras in the parking lot, which is itself far from a given--many or most motels and hotels don't; and 2) that if they had the cameras, the theft would most likely not have happened (i.e that the cameras would have actively deterred it).

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