Crime can happen anywhere, and self-storage facilities can certainly be a target, especially with all those tempting units full of goods. Prevention is incredibly important, not only for the safety of your team as well as customers and their belongings, but for the reputation and success of your business. It’s critical that you regularly review and update your security measures. Below are some strategies that work well for storage facilities, plus some advice on what to do if a crime does occur at your site.
General Prevention Tips
Here are some general tips to help you minimize crime at your self-storage facility:
- Install security equipment. This includes surveillance cameras, alarms and motion sensors. These can deter criminals and provide evidence in the event of an incident.
- Implement access control. Entrance gates and keypads restrict facility access to authorized personnel and tenants. Anyone else is prevented from entering.
- Perform regular inspections. Look for security vulnerabilities and address them promptly. This includes checking unit-door locks, gates and other access points for signs of tampering.
- Focus on deterrence. Post clear signage on your property indicating that the site is monitored and secured.
- Add proper lighting. Ensure your facility is well-lit, especially in areas with high traffic or high-value items like boats and RVs.
- Educate your customers. Tell them how to protect their belongings, such as using a high-quality door lock and storing valuable items at the back of their unit. Discourage them from sharing their access code or key with anyone. They should also report any suspicious activity to management as soon as possible, so you can investigate.
- Be vigilant. Look for suspicious activity and promptly report any security concerns to the appropriate authorities.
By taking these steps, you can help curtail crime at your self-storage property and ensure the safety of your tenants and their stored items. A secure facility won’t only attract customers, it’ll give them peace of mind that their belongings are in good hands.
Partner With Law Enforcement
Creating a partnership with local police and other agencies can provide numerous benefits for your self-storage business, including increased visibility, faster response times, and access to additional resources and expertise. Here’s how to establish a good relationship:
- Reach out. Contact your local police department or sheriff's office to express your interest in creating a partnership. Arrange a meeting to discuss your security concerns as well as potential collaboration opportunities.
- Identify areas of concern. Work with officers to identify specific security vulnerabilities at your facility. Together, develop a plan to address these issues and implement better security.
- Get training. Work with authorities to get educated on crime prevention, including best practices for responding to security incidents and interacting with officers.
- Share information. Establish regular communication channels. For example, you can share incident reports, security updates and other relevant information. This’ll help police stay informed about potential threats at your site and allow them to respond quickly if necessary.
- Be friendly. Invite officers to your facility for a tour and participate in their community events. This’ll build trust and collaboration between you and promote a sense of shared responsibility for security in your community.
When Crime Happens
If you discover a crime at your self-storage property, it’s important to report it to the authorities immediately. This is critical for ensuring the perpetrators are apprehended and brought to justice, and for preventing future incidents. Here are some steps to take:
- Make the call. Contact your local police department or emergency-services number as soon as possible. Provide as much information as you can, including the type of crime, location, and any description of the suspects or vehicles involved.
- Cooperate. When officers arrive, provide any information or evidence you have. Answer their questions truthfully and to the best of your ability, and assist in the investigation.
- Secure the scene. Take steps to prevent any further damage or contamination. For example, if there was a break-in, don’t touch anything that may have been handled by the perpetrator, as it may contain important evidence.
- Notify your insurance company. Report the crime as soon as possible and file a claim. They can help you with the next steps and offer guidance.
- Notify your tenants. If the crime involves the theft or damage of stored property, notify the customer as soon as possible. Tell them about the incident and any steps you’re taking to address it. Be transparent and responsive to their concerns and questions.
- Review and improve security measures. After a crime has occurred, consider your security measures and identify any potential weaknesses that may have contributed to it. Take steps to improve them so it doesn’t happen again.
While few businesses are invincible against crime, being proactive about your security can reduce the chances that it’ll happen at your self-storage facility. Install high-quality components, create a partnership with local police, and ask your tenants to help keep an eye on things. All these measures will greatly reduce break-ins, vandalism and other wrongdoings.
Magen Smith is a co-founder of Atomic Storage Group, a boutique self-storage management company, and owner of Magen Smith CPA, an outsourced accounting firm specializing in self-storage. She’s also a partner in Safe Space Development, which builds self-storage properties. Magen started in the industry as a facility manager and has held nearly every operational role. She has a passion for the industry, helping owners improve their businesses, teaching asset management and conducting self-storage audits. To reach her, e-mail [email protected].