By Officer Charles Patty
Crime prevention and security measures are a hot topic in the self-storage industry. Thanks to popular reality TV shows -- “Storage Wars” -- everyone now believes that each of these storage units holds outrageous treasures, like first-edition comic books or gold bars. That’s also the perception of would-be burglars who might want to break into your storage unit, so please take note of these crime-prevention measures from the La Vernia Police Department to protect your property and aid in the recovery of your stuff.
We recently took a report for burglaries involving several self-storage units. Based on our preliminary investigation, there appears to be a false notion that any padlock will provide adequate protection against a break-in. On the contrary, a standard padlock with an exposed shackle does not meet the minimum recommended protection for these storage units. Many burglaries at storage facilities are committed by people who cut locks with bolt-cutters. Smarter criminals will replace the padlocks they cut, so the manager doing a walk-through doesn’t realize for days that the lock has been cut and replaced.
The La Vernia Police Department recommends a steel, case-hardened shackle disk-type lock. These specialty security locks provide an added level of security; they’re extremely difficult to cut with bolt-cutters. Criminals will see this type of lock and move on, looking for a cheap lock or an easier target.
If you have high-value items among your stored possessions, put them in the back of your unit. This places the most important belongings away from the front door, protecting them from a “crash and grab” type of theft -- where thieves break into several units and quickly seize whatever looks like it holds the most value. Because these burglaries happen quickly, burglars are less likely to grab your important items.
Lastly, by using an inventory list and recording the serial numbers of your valuables, you increase the chances of seeing your property again. The serial numbers and a picture of your valuables will allow the police to search for them at local pawn shops and other places where a burglar might hide or sell stolen goods. Marking your property with your driver license number, preceded by your driver license state -- TX 0000000 --also allows pawn shop owners to immediately identify the previous owner of the property. This does not work for everything, as some items are too small and other items too valuable to be permanently marked.
Most self-storage customers are law-abiding people. Unfortunately, by doing an Internet search for “self-storage and crime,” you’ll find articles on everything from drug busts, counterfeiting rings, and even the first World Trade Center bombings. Some people use self-storage facilities for illegal activities. While it’s impossible to keep every criminally inclined person out, self-storage owners can do some things to minimize the risk of renting a unit to a criminal.
Owners of rental storage units can require background checks to screen prospective renters. They can install security lighting, cameras, and a fence with a gate with a pin code for each customer.
Not only does it make good business sense to have functional security features, it actually deters crime. Cameras, lighting, and other security components tell your customers you care about their belongings, but it also sends a message that crime won’t be tolerated on your property. The majority of people will visit the property during the day or afternoon.
Follow these crime-prevention tips and help your police “Take a Bite out of Crime.”