Theft, vandalism, graffiti, break-ins, employee safety, destruction of property, and lawsuits are all common concerns among self-storage owners and operators. Although there are many precautionary measures available and in use today, unlawful and criminal activity seems to lurk around every dark corner, pushing self-storage facilities to advance toward high-tech security.
In self-storage, security is progressing far beyond the traditional tools, gaining strength through products or services approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In fact, the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (the SAFETY Act) even provides liability protection to promote the creation, deployment and use of anti-terrorism technology. Simply put, if your facility uses Act-approved products and services, you’re given some protection against liability in the event of malicious or criminal acts.
Protecting Yourself, Taking Action
You may think you’ve never experienced a terrorist attack against yourself, your property or your tenants. The truth is, if you’ve ever experienced theft, threats, violence, physical harm, vandalism, break-ins or graffiti at your facility, you may have been a victim of a terrorist act.
Under the SAFETY Act, a terrorist act is defined as any criminal activity, malicious attack, injury or harm to a person or property, including financial or personal loss. “At one time or another, you’ll inevitably run into these types of issues,” says Ray McRae, vice president of Storage Solutions, an Arizona-based self-storage provider with more than 42 locations.
As a facility operator, you have the right to defend the safety and security of your facility. This should become a natural sell and added value when you speak to tenants and prospects of the advanced security measures you provide. When it comes to protecting tenants, their property, your facility and staff, security should never be taken lightly or second-guessed.
Many storage operators claim their facilities are secure, but their measures often appear meager to trespassers, criminals and vandals looking to commit their next crime. Commonly used tools have their weaknesses: gate codes can be observed or distributed, alarms can experience false positives, video cameras are rarely monitored around the clock, and even well-lit perimeters and fences have their fallacies, such as missing links and broken light bulbs.
McRae believes in creating an environment where customers feel safe knowing their cherished belongings are protected. “Use technology when it’s affordable and proven. Then give your team members the knowledge, skills and tools to accomplish this task. Work with local law enforcement whenever possible. Most important, be committed,” he says.