With the continuing popularity of recreational travel and boating, stringent CC&Rs that don’t allow parking of recreational vehicles within their neighborhoods, and stricter city ordinances, boat and RV storage is becoming more of a necessity then ever before. More and more self-storage facilities are being designed to accommodate RVs along with traditional self-storage units. In fact, more are being built every year dedicated to RV parking.
Historically, boat and RV storage facilities were open areas with the bare-minimum chain-link fence. With no security but the fence, these areas were typically afterthoughts of self-storage. But today’s RVs can be extravagant, long-term investments. Theft, burglary and vandalism are ongoing concerns of prospective tenants. They are looking for a higher standard of security. Owners of these vehicles want to be sure their investments are safe and secure. With the availability of sophisticated security systems, boat and RV storage operators can now offer these customers the security they demand.
Lines of Defense
Naturally, the first line of security is a perimeter fence, which must be tall enough to discourage would-be intruders from simply climbing over it. The added protection of razor wire will further discourage them.
Infrared perimeter beams are also a very effective means of preventing security breaches along the fence. They are set up at specific points along the perimeter of the gate. When the infrared beams are broken by unlawful entry, audible alarms, such as sirens and/or strobe lights, can be set off throughout the facility while relays are triggered simultaneously for alarms to contact the facility manager, security-monitoring company and the police.
Adequate lighting is another positive addition to the security of boat and RV storage facilities. Effective lighting provides clarity with night-time video-taping capabilities and acts as another deterrent to intruders. Lighting also creates a safer, more comfortable environment for tenants picking up their vehicles or arriving home during the night.
Security must also be applied to the most common threat of invasion: other tenants. There is no better way to obtain access to a storage facility than being an existing renter. Computerized security-gate access is one of the most effective means of security for any type of storage facility.
A good access system will track the entrance and the exit activity of the facility and maintain an infinite history. Keypads can be set up strategically throughout the site to create security zones. A standard storage tenant can have access to the front gate, but there is no need for him to have right of entry to the RV-parking area. Security zones prevent unauthorized tenants from entering those limited access areas. The access system should also lock delinquent tenants out of the facility automatically and remain locked out until paid, weeding out higher-risk tenants.
Many RV storage facilities have made gate access easier by mounting two keypads at every entry and exit gate. The shorter keypad, mounted approximately 42 inches from the ground, allows access for standard cars and trucks. Keypads mounted approximately 66 inches from the ground allow RV drivers to access the facility without having to exit their vehicles.
Other security-gate options can be added to enhance accessibility for RV drivers. The addition of a proximity reader allows entry to the facility by waving a card, comparable to the size of a credit card, up to the access device. A remote-entry device, similar to a garage-door opener, can also be used. Remote-entry devices allow customers access to the facility with the push of a button—they don’t even have to open the vehicle window. These convenient features can be offered to boat and RV customers for an additional charge, turning a security system into a revenue-generating service.
With security gate access comes the ability to arm each individual door with an alarm. Of course, this method is not possible for most boats or recreational vehicles; but with the advancement of wireless technology comes wireless security. Many of the more sophisticated security companies have embraced this new technology and created wireless alarm systems designed specifically for self-storage.
Wireless brings a new and unique diversity to boat and RV security. These facilities can now offer security using motion detectors, which are simply placed in the vehicle. The detector checks in consistently throughout the day. When the owner is granted access to the facility using the security gate, the motion detector is disarmed. If an unauthorized person enters the vehicle, it senses the activity and the security system will be activated. Audible alarms, strobe lights and/or triggering relays will be used to contact the manager, security-monitoring company and/or police.
One of the most obvious means of preventing intrusions in an RV storage facility is a surveillance system with cameras. CCTV and digital-video recording is vital to the security of any such facility. Cameras throughout the boat and RV storage area recording all activities and persons entering will promote the highest confidence in potential tenants.
Owners and operators can monitor each camera’s view from anywhere, anytime using high-speed Internet connections. Digital-video recorders commonly come with this feature to accommodate off-site surveillance. Not only can owners and operators view video of the facility, with operator-provided web addresses, customers can access the video via the Internet to check on their prized possessions.
Sleek and attractive lexan panels can be prominently displayed in the storage facility’s office, showing customers and potential tenants the security measures in place. Aesthetically pleasing site maps can be added to the prominent display showing the layout of the facility and the status of each storage space, whether it be traditional self-storage or boat and RV spaces.
With today’s focus on recreational relaxation, lifestyle and luxury, and all the latest enhancements in technology, boat and RV storage has become more competitive than ever. It is imperative potential storage developers examine each area’s demographics and customer base. What exactly are customers looking for when it comes to boat and RV security? As a storage owner, it is wise to invest in a higher level of security, win the confidence of tenants, and maintain customer loyalty and continued business.
Karen Genualdi is a marketing representative with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based PTI Integrated Systems Inc., which offers a complete, integrated management-control system for self-storage. Courtney Doerfler is business-development assistant for PTI. For more information, call 800.331.6224; visit www.ptiaccess.com.