The Business Owner’s Role in Self-Storage Security
By Amy Campbell
While waiting for food to go at a local restaurant recently, I happened to notice several small video cameras around the small eatery, which is located in a busy grocery store strip mall. There was one pointed at the register, another where you pick up your order, and a couple more at strategic places. This is a local joint that has been around for years. It’s always packed with people dining in at the couple dozen of tables inside and on the patio, not to mention with people like me who order food to go. It’s a cramped space, but the superb food and low prices attract patrons.
While I cannot say if the eatery has had crime problems in the past, I do applaud the owner’s proactive approach to security. Whether the cameras were installed to ward off would-be thieves or catch them in the act, they’re an invaluable tool to keeping this business safer.
Every self-storage operator understands the importance of security at a facility. It’s no secret that people store stuff behind locked unit doors, there’s typically only one or two employees on the site, and there could be cash in the office. Seems like easy pickings for thieves, and at facilities that don’t have surveillance cameras, it may be.
While video cameras have long been a self-storage security staple, operators now have an arsenal of technology they can employ to protect their businesses. Read more about the best products to deterring crime, what consumers expect when it comes to facility security, and the manager’s role to keeping a business safe in the new ISS report, “Self-Storage Security Technology: Tools That Keep Facilities Safe, Now and in the Future.”
Unfortunately, it’s not just thieves from the beyond the property’s border in which operators should be concerned. In the last year, ISS has reported on several inside jobs, with managers lining their pockets with cash or stealing from units. A recent post on Self-Storage Talk by senior member Reebee highlighted the importance of keeping an eye on employees.
A theft was discovered at her facility after a tenant was locked out, but claimed he’d paid the rent in cash. After a bit of research, Reebee discovered the transaction was made, then canceled—a red flag. Video footage from that day showed the assistant manager clearly putting the cash in her purse. You can read how the owner of the facility handled the theft in this thread.
Of course, cameras, locks and gates will not keep out the most determined thieves. The manager above had to of known the camera was right at her back. Yet she still thought she could get away with the theft. And she did—for a while. After all, it’s highly unlikely this was the first time she stole from the facility.
The cameras at the local restaurant I visited could deter a thief—either external or internal—from making a grab for cash. Or maybe not. Today’s thieves are more brazen and desperate than ever. How often have you seen footage on the news of a burglary with masked thief—and sometimes without a mask—boldly look directly at the camera?
The best thing you can do as a business owner is be vigilant and proactive. Don’t install wireless unit alarms and surveillance cameras and expect to be clear of any possible threats. Don’t hire a manager without doing a thorough background check. If you don’t have a camera in the office, add one. If you’re not reviewing payments, move-ins and move-outs, vacant units and other day-to-day operations on a regular basis, you should be. And if you do discover something that doesn’t seem quite right, it probably isn’t.
Share your security advice or employee theft story by posting a comment below or on Self-Storage Talk.