I've read numerous blog posts that speak to the safety of putting valuables in the hotel room safe. All I've read seem to believe it's not a good idea and they point to various stories of money or other valuables being stolen from within. But, much like the mass media news, only the aberrations get published, and it is in no way the norm.
Personally, I've never had items stolen from my hotel safe or room. Although I have been careful over the years and usually keep my cash on my person (I think it much less likely to be robbed than burglarized), I still keep some valuables in the hotel safe. Things like my laptop, iPhone, and yes some cash at times.
I think it is extremely unlikely anything would be stolen. I remember on one occasion I forgot the code to the safe. It was a big deal to get management to open it for me. Access is not given to the cleaning staff, but only top brass, from my experience.
Additionally, I believe the vast majority of people are honest, or at least too scared to get caught purloining. I remember an occasion in Cambodia when I had taken $1,000 in US dollars (the world's premier currency), and left it on my bureau in the hotel room. I was gone for the most part of the day and when I returned I saw it sitting there still. I couldn't believe I had been so stupid!
But, housekeeping had come to the room and cleaned and the money still there. Now, $1,000 to a housekeeper in Cambodia at the time this occurred likely represented a half year salary. That's got to be tempting! That's the equivalent of leaving $25,000 out for someone making $50,000 per year here.
To date, I've never had anything stolen from me while traveling that I can recall. I've had losses by other means, but I don't have a good robbery or burglary story yet. Not even one attempted pickpocket, although I've seen warning signs posted in many areas I've visited. Really, what's wrong with me? Do I look so indigent in my travels that even the poor, dishonest people leave me alone?
As I've said in a previous post, it would be worth a small loss (not over $500), for one good robbery story (assuming I survived it). A good story is more valuable long after the money is gone. But, alas, I'll keep trying. Maybe I need to buy and wear expensive jewelry? Nah, not my style.
I have had incidents of dishonest scammers as I've posted before. But they never robbed me, just deceived me. I also had the event where I messed up on the currency in the Philippines and paid the cabbie 10x too much. But that was my stupidity and his greed for not correcting me.
Anyway, I just wanted to post my travel experiences. It's my belief the safe in your room is safe 99.99% of the time. The stories you read to the contrary, are either not true, a mis-representation of the event (they never locked the safe), or a gross exaggeration of fact. Sure it's possible things may be stolen from your locked safe, but it so unlikely I would not consider it a risk.