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Fortifying a Self-Storage Facility for Security and Marketability

By John Fogg Comments
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Securing a modern day self-storage development warrants thoughtful planning and execution. Today’s projects are more diverse than ever before. Properties require a combination of standard and custom-designed security components and practices. A proper strategy is essential to create a successfully secured and marketable site. Technology and components are ever-changing, so your security philosophy should be, too.

Site Plan and Access

From start to finish, security should play a role in the design and construction of your self-storage project. The first component to consider is your site plan. Before setting the building layout, establish the position of the gate in relation to the office. In a traditional storage property, the gate location is the single most important consideration in regard to security. When possible, create sight lines so you can see the storage units from the office, as this will discourage would-be thieves.

Of course, multi-story, climate-controlled storage presents a different set of circumstances. Instead of a gate, main access doors are usually placed near the office. Other entry points will need access-control devices to limit entry and exit to only those who are authorized. Hallways will require more cameras, too. These added components can drive up your security budget, so be prepared.

Traditional access control for self-storage properties generally includes keypads. Although other, more sophisticated technology is available, keypads are still the preferred tool at the majority of facilities. Thousands of properties are using these machines, which means they won’t go away any time soon. Owners aren’t likely to scrap functional systems.

Self-Storage Keypad***Keypad wiring and installation is simple and straightforward, and there have been many enhancements added through the years. Keypads now have “onboard brains”; if communication with the software fails, the keypad houses the access codes for continued operation. Intercoms can be housed in the keypad as well as pinhole cameras, which may be connected to a video-recording system. Communication with the keypad can now be accomplished via the Internet, eliminating the need for a computer at unattended sites.

New technology is adding to the way customers access properties, and specialty types of storage drive the need for different access-control components. Proximity or card readers make sense in applications where state-of-the-art security is desired. These might include multi-story buildings, or properties that offer storage for boats, RVs, classic cars, art or wine. These readers can be used with cards, key fobs or clickers. Smartphones can be used as proximity devices, and applications are being written to use them as a wireless keypad.

Door Alarms

The self-storage security system that ends with the access gate or door welcomes the would-be thief. Picture this scenario: A person rents a unit and is given an access code. He begins spending time on site, observing activity and what’s inside any open units. All the while, he’s making a mental and physical inventory, planning what to steal later. When the opportunity presents itself, he cuts the locks on select units and takes the goods, storing them in his own unit or moving them to the front of the original unit for later loading into a truck. He puts a lock back on each unit so no one is suspicious until a tenant comes in and can’t open his space.

Individual door alarms eliminate this risk. As soon as the thief opens the first door that doesn’t belong to him, an alarm sounds and the office or monitoring company is notified. The burglar has no choice but to rent at a facility where alarms haven’t been installed.

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