Safe Self-Storage: The Rule, Not The Exception

Posted on: 25 May 2016

As the tenant of a self-storage facility, you pay a monthly fee in exchange for the opportunity to secure your valuable belongings in a particular unit and to access it at any time during business hours. The owner of the facility, for his/her part, promises to protect the property with reasonable security measures. However, recent news articles point to a rash of criminal behavior occurring at storage facilities around the country. How much of a problem is this kind of activity? Is it really a trend in the self-storage business?

The truth about theft

Unfortunately, thefts do occasionally occur at self-storage units. Thieves do sometimes prey on poorly secured units, cutting locks with bolt cutters and carting off plunder. These crimes often occur at night, especially if the facility is not monitored by a security guard or secured by a barbed wire gate.

From time to time, other crimes have taken place at storage facilities, but these are rare. For instance, one drug dealer used his unit to manufacture methamphetamine.  Vandals sometimes spray paint the doors and walls of storage buildings. Twice, morbidly dramatic crimes occurred at storage facilities, when not one but two New England funeral directors, in separate cases, stashed dead bodies in their storage units.

The exception, not the rule

Despite the fact that criminals do sometimes target storage facilities for nefarious purposes, trouble is more the exception than the rule. Uninterrupted safekeeping of his/her valuables is the far more realistic experience of a storage unit tenant. This is because consumers have increasingly demanded safe facilities, and facility owners have responded by implementing better security procedures. These improved procedures deter thieves and vandals (and, presumably, wayward funeral directors), but it is up to you to research the facilities in your area. Choose a business that works hard to prevent the loss of your belongings to theft or vandalism.

Eyes wide open

When considering a self storage facility, ask these six questions:

  1. How is building access monitored? Every person allowed in and out of buildings on the property should be required to sign in and out at the office, showing proof of identification as a contracted tenant.

  2. How is access restricted after business hours? The storage building should be gated and alarmed. A security guard should either be on the premises or check it during the night. Some managers live on site so that any intrusion can be immediately met with personal response.

  3. Can I choose the type of lock used on my unit? The owner of a truly secure facility will encourage you to purchase a disc lock or cylinder lock, both of which are resistant to a bolt cutter–toting thief.

  4. Is video footage recorded or simply live monitored? It may be impressive to walk into the facility office and see multiple monitors displaying footage from various security cameras located around the property. However, if that footage is not being recorded, it will not be of any use if a crime occurs. Not only are the monitors likely not being watched 24 hours a day, but there is no video evidence to convict a thief or vandal.

  5. How many crimes--if any--have occurred at the facility in the past year? Ask about the facility's track record for maintaining a crime-free property.  

  6. What insurance coverage comes with my contract?  Find out what the owner's liability is if your unit is vandalized or your items stolen. Most facilities will also provide information about additional coverage you can purchase to ensure that replacement costs are covered.

Self-storage facilities offer safe, secure units in which you can keep your belongings with great peace of mind. Ask critical questions and choose the facility that works hard to be the rule, not the exception. For more info, contact a facility like I-70 Self Storage.


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