How to combat ‘inside jobs’ at your facility

March 26, 2014 1
How to combat ‘inside jobs’ at your facility

You’ve taken sensible security measures to protect your self-storage units, but you still find yourself filing burglary reports. As your protection becomes more sophisticated, thieves continue to look for ways to thwart it—not unlike the ongoing battle between increasingly robust anti-hacking protocols and the hackers looking for a way in.

Sometimes, these crimes are an inside job, as in the recent case of two self-storage renters arrested for several break-ins and thefts. Because the men were tenants, they had access codes—and were able to essentially work at will. They allegedly replaced broken locks with similar models, masking the crimes for a while. The trail to them started with someone who noticed stored belongings being sold on eBay.

Short of turning your self-storage property into a virtual prison, which penalizes law-abiding renters at the expense of a few bad eggs, how do you help stem this type of inside crime? You can adopt several low-cost, common-sense measures, as well as some higher-dollar ones:

1. Communicate With Tenants.
Inform your tenants about the importance of matching the level of security in their units with the value of what’s stored there—both monetary and sentimental. This can be done without creating undue concern or alarm.

Let them know what security measures you’ve put in place and address the measures they might want to consider for their units. You can use the analogy of a tenant’s home. What level of security do they have in place? What additional security would they put in place, budget permitting?

2. Offer a Reminder.
Remind tenants that thieves generally go for the low-hanging fruit. Units that are difficult to breach, are clearly armed with top-notch security or contain contents that would be difficult to remove aren’t likely targets. By taking a little time and spending a bit of money, tenants generally can improve the security in their units.

3. Encourage an Extra Step.
Over and above items you’ve already installed or plan to install in every unit, encourage tenants to purchase alarms, motion detectors and surveillance cameras—in essence creating a much higher level of unit security. Offer to sell them protective technology at a discount, demonstrating your willingness to have some skin in the game to help keep their belongings safe.

4. Provide Options.
Let tenants know that everyone, even the most budget-conscious person, has options for beefing up self-storage security. Big-box stores, for instance, carry inexpensive wireless door alarms for $30 or less. While they likely aren’t a match for the more sophisticated technology sold by established security companies, these low-cost devices at least offer a way to bolster security and deter thieves. Self-storage operators may want to check them out as an affordable add-on for some or all of a facility’s units.

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  • Chris Jernigan

    You really can’t tell tenants or prospective tenants to pay money to supplement their own security of a unit when you are essentially selling them on your security already. The way to thwart the crime mentioned is to look at what times those tenants went in and out of the gate.

    The best security at any self storage facility will always be the fact that the thief does not know what is behind what door. Those thieves needed hours and hours inside the facility. Looking at the gate entry and exit times would have red flagged the problem.