The recent deadly shooting at a Florida self-storage facility reminds all of us that no place is immune to violence. This murder serves as a wake-up call to everyone in the self-storage industry to review, revise and redouble efforts to keep our facilities safe from mayhem.
It’s also a reminder to train on-site people to spot suspicious activities that can tip you off that someone is planning harm. Furthermore, it’s a trigger to check our facilities once again to spot unlawful uses and activities.
Obviously, self-storage facilities can be hotbeds for hiding and holding substances and equipment meant to inflict injury and damage. So, what property and people tips can help ensure safety and readiness?
1. Consult Your Local Police or Sheriff’s Department.
Explain that you want to look at how to improve overall property security and inform employees about how to detect and handle suspicious situations. They either will be able to help you directly or refer you to an organization that can.
2. Cop an Attitude.
Make sure your property and your people communicate a zero-tolerance attitude toward illegal activity. This doesn’t have to be Draconian and nasty. Rather, how you vet tenants, communicate policies and post notices can say volumes about a strict approach.
As part of this, encourage tenants to report any suspicious activity, much like airports do. While this won’t ensure prevention of problems, a combination of wary tenants and zero-tolerance policies can “encourage” problem people to move on to easier pickins, much like thieves tend to target the lowest-hanging fruit. This is an excellent topic to address with local law enforcement agencies.
3. Conduct Random Walk-Throughs.
Ideally, you should create a protocol that includes regular police surveillance in tandem with a security service and employee observation. The idea is to make tenants aware that you’re on top of facility protection—something that most customers will appreciate.
4. Picture This.
At minimum, make sure you have working video cameras at entry and exit points. While this alone won’t thwart illegal activity, it’s one more way to discourage middle-of-the-night shenanigans and the like.
5. Light It Up.
If your property is either under-illuminated or overexposed, research ways to correct the problem. One way is to contact a lighting/illumination company. Another way is to get recommendations from local law enforcement agencies. Be aware of two critical issues when considering lighting:
- Lighting that’s too bright can be as problematic as areas that are too dark, since it can create glare that makes it difficult to see.
- You should consider LED bulbs or an LED lighting system if you haven’t already. While the initial cost is higher than other forms of lighting, longevity is superb, plus LED is energy-efficient. Check out offerings at your stores like Costco, The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware.