JUST THIS MORNING I RECEIVED AN E-MAIL from the Los Angeles Police Department's Art Theft Detail. The detective was seeking information about a burglary suspect who targeted self-storage facilities, taking unique movie memorabilia and other items. Once I followed the provided link for more information, I learned the suspect, 33-year-old Wade Justin Halverson, had in fact been arrested for a series of burglaries that took place at a Public Storage facility in Studio City, Calif., where he rented. Halverson had also rented units in Westlake Village, Calif., and Las Vegas.
The culprit rented units using sham California driver's licenses under different names--including Jack Steel, William J. Curtis and Dr. Steel Halverson--and entered adjacent units either by tunneling through or dismanteling wall sections. He would then return to his unit, repair the wall, and leave his unit abandoned and empty. Sometimes he cut off another renter's lock, looted the space, and replaced the lock with one of his own. According to LAPD, Halverson also gave fictitious phone numbers and forged checks. He is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighs 240 pounds, has dark buzz-cut hair, a goatee and multiple tattoos.
The burglaries, most of which took place in December, netted memorabilia, costumes and scripts from Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future and other films. These were then sold to antique stores, animation stores and pawnshops in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. LAPD is requesting anyone aware of other storage units rented by Halverson contact the Art Theft Detail at 213.485.2524.
This is our annual security issue. I share the above information not only to alert operators in these areas of potential theft, but to demonstrate the importance of onsite security precautions. These days, it isn't enough to have access-controlled gates and individual unit alarms. Your biggest enemy might be one of your own customers! So, while you'll read here about all the lastest security features, keep in mind the importance of background checks and follow-up on phone numbers and addresses. The more obstacles you present Mr. Slim Shady, the less likely he'll rent from you or steal from your tenants.