Protecting Your Self-Storage Business During the Season of Giving

Protecting Your Self Storage
Recent thefts at high-end retailers are a good reminder that the holiday season can bring about more criminal activity. Make sure you are protecting your self-storage business from being vulnerable.

About a month ago, a Nordstrom department store in Walnut Creek, California was ransacked in what police are calling an “organized theft.” Anyone that may have seen the footage, would agree that this was a well-planned, coordinated crime. Around 9 p.m. on a Saturday, the thieves entered the store, grabbed merchandise, and fled to their vehicles, which were conveniently and haphazardly parked just outside the store, crowding the street. Two employees were assaulted, and another was doused with pepper-spray. Some arrests have been made, and police are still investigating.

What’s scary about this whole incident is the possibility that it might not be isolated and how it clearly demonstrates what lengths people are willing to go to get what they want, whatever it takes. While this may not happen at a self-storage facility, it’s a great reminder that all and any sort of business is susceptible to theft.

Storage Facility Security

The first thing to think about is, “How’s your security?” Many facilities with video and other security measures are experiencing break-ins. It’s not enough to add security and expect it to insulate your business from crime. You must also look for other creative ways to prevent it every day.

Components that can help include:

  • A quality access-control system that includes a mix of entry and exit gates, keypads, and perimeter fencing.
  • Properly functioning metal doors and hasps, door alarms, electronic smart locks, motion sensors, and even a video system that gives visibility to every unit. Pairing door alarms and electronic smart locks provides proactive and reactive security.
  • Thermal motion sensors inside storage units are another modern tool that can help detect break-ins in real time, including sending alerts.
  • Mobile-app-based monitoring allows both operators and tenants to see all activity associated within the individual units.
  • Video surveillance. Cameras are now more affordable and produce higher-quality images. Some even use artificial intelligence (AI).

Self Storage Break InsIn addition to break-ins, there are a host of other problems that could wreak havoc on your business. Read this blog from a storage operator who dealt with vagrants hanging around and causing damage. Criminal activity increases during this time of year, so be on guard.

Besides having a solid security system, it is also important to walk around your property frequently and look for things that might seem out of place. For example, examine unit locks and keypads for tampering and encourage your tenants to report odd behavior or events. Keep an eye on your security cameras as people move about your property. Make yourself present so everyone knows you’re keeping an eye on the facility. For customers of Forge, we do three daily walk throughs to audit locks, doors and inspect visual signs for any potential problems. This is a service we offer to both our new and existing self-storage customers.

While it is key to keep your facility at a good occupancy level, that doesn’t mean you should ever let your guard down. When someone comes in to lease a unit, make sure you are following all protocols, checking identification and asking questions. Questionable people don’t like questions. They offer vague answers and might not look you in the eye. If their identification doesn’t check out, tell them you can’t accept it and don’t be afraid to say “no.” Self-Storage Talk members often share “dodge a bullet” moments when a prospect seems like trouble, and they refuse the rental.

In truth, it’s been a crazy, disastrous couple of years and many people are desperate, especially this time of year. Even those who might’ve never considered crimes before could be entertaining the thought. This person could already be a tenant, someone who drove by your site and thought it might be good for a burglary, or the next prospect to walk through your door. Don’t leave your facility vulnerable. Your self-storage site might not be a Nordstrom’s, but it’s just as valuable to you.

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