On a quiet Sunday morning, a pickup full of explosives is driven to the local courthouse and detonated. Where did the truck and explosives come from? Perhaps your storage facility. From a terrorist’s point of view, a 10-by-40 self-storage unit offers easy access and plenty of space for contraband and illegal munitions. The units are large enough to house a truck or trailer full of explosives and can be accessed almost anytime.
Fortunately, self-storage operators can eliminate or significantly reduce such threats with smart thinking and technology: Sensors detect explosives, activate locking devices and prevent criminals from accessing the pickup; software notifies the manager and law enforcement that explosives have been detected and the unit is in a lockdown status.
Enormous sums have been spent in research and development to address the storage security problem. Technology is improving and costs for equipment deployment are decreasing. Facility owners wishing to build new or retrofit old security systems can apply to the Homeland Security Fund for financing in either tax credits or government grants.
Examine your own facility and imagine a terrorist wanting to use it as a staging area for creating panic and economic chaos in your city. What steps would he use? First, he would probably send a non-threatening person to rent a 10-by-30 as far away from the office and cameras as possible. This customer would ask about security, where the cameras are, how often the manager performs inspections and inquire about hours of operation, including weekend and after-hours access. Perhaps he’ll mention he may move in a cargo trailer with his late grandmother’s fine china inside. That “fine china” is a bomb or the ingredients to make one.
Another concern is that of methamphetamine production in your facility. This is a Homeland Security and a health issue. Meth use is closely tied to violent crimes and property crimes. Fumes from the production of this drug pose a health hazard to anyone inside the building. In fact, a complete building may be contaminated and may have to be closed, torn down and the soil excavated. The cost could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for repairs.
OK, now you are so concerned that you only rent to your in-laws, pastor and local law enforcement people. Don’t despair. Technology can reduce much of the risk by detecting suspicious customers and immediately notifying the manager and police.
The self-storage community needs to get active. Start an e-mail campaign to your local municipal officials to inform them of the risks everyone faces in this war on terrorism and drugs. It’s all about money and where it’s spent to do the most good to protect people’s safety.
News articles primarily address the shipping-container and port-security issues. Because of this, facility owners must make a unified stand to educate Homeland Security and politicians that an equal or greater threat is coming from criminals and terrorists using self-storage sites as their base of operations. Although security companies are engaged in developing this awareness, the storage industry needs the political support of its members to get money to make security measures available for all facilities.
Clark Stave is co-owner of EZ Management Software LLC. He has been involved in Homeland Security new product development for three years. For more information, call 800.544.0852; visit www.ezmanagementsoftware.com.
For more information about self-storage security, check out "Security: Choosing Tools, Protecting Your Investment," a 32-page e-book available through the Self-Storage Training Insititute. Click here for more info!