Vehicle-Storage Controversy Near Fort Drum, NY, Ignites Concern From Military Personnel

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Self-storage operators with facilities near Fort Drum, N.Y., have been flooded with calls from concerned military customers after vehicle-storage company Fort Drum Storage LLP recently went out of business and allegedly moved 176 vehicles into warehouses without notifying tenants.

Concern may have escalated after Fort Drum officials made a Facebook post last month informing soldiers and civilian employees about issues related to Fort Drum Storage, which also has conducted business as Indoor Vehicle Storage and Fort Drum Vehicle Storage. The New York attorney general’s office began looking into problems with the business after receiving complaints from military customers that their vehicles had not been properly maintained while in storage.

Anxiety increased when some soldiers returned from serving overseas and apparently could not locate their vehicles. State officials recently seized files and keys from Fort Drum Storage and have helped reunite at least 16 owners with their vehicles, which had been moved to warehouses in Sandy Creek and Oswego.

"Vehicles stored by the company are safe, but will require alternate arrangements to be promptly made for their continued storage," said Deanna Nelson, assistant attorney general, in an e-mail to affected soldiers. Customers can choose to leave their cars in their current warehouses, move them to a free, unsecured lot or make other private arrangements, Nelson said. Customers were also told they could stop payments to Fort Drum Storage, challenge credit card payments going back 90 days and consider private legal action.

The controversy prompted calls to other nearby self-storage facilities from military customers concerned about the condition and whereabouts of their vehicles. William Judy, general manager of Carefree Storage in Carthage, said he has received several phone calls and e-mails from Fort Drum personnel asking if the company was involved in the controversy. Similarly, Ronald J. Pope, owner of ABC Self Storage in Watertown, said his facility received more than a dozen calls from military customers asking about their vehicles.

“This has left a black eye for the storage industry,” Judy said. “It’s affecting us all.” Carefree Storage stores about 250 vehicles, many of them owned by Fort Drum personnel, according to the source.

“I certainly would not want to be treated like they were treated by that other company,” Pope said, adding that calls of concern subsided once the attorney general’s office had contacted all of the affected soldiers from the Fort Drum Storage case.

The attorney general’s office is still determining if it will launch a criminal investigation into Fort Drum Storage. It’s possible the state could file suit against the company’s owner, JoAnn Sanchez-Norquist, to reimburse soldiers whose vehicles were damaged.

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