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All Alone: Using Your ‘Spidey’ Senses to Stay Safe in Self-Storage

Self-storage operators often work long hours alone, which can leave them vulnerable to dangerous situations. Keeping alert and having a plan in case something does go down is smart and necessary.

Amy Campbell

August 30, 2019

3 Min Read

Earlier this month, my pool motor stopped working. I live in Arizona, so you can take a guess what happens to a pool in the summer when the water isn’t properly circulating. Yes, lots of lovely algae. I contacted my home-warranty company, then waited several days before a tech came out to assess the situation. He misdiagnosed the problem and it took visits from two different vendors before the motor was fixed.

While all this was a hassle to say the least, it went down right around the time of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. Needless to say, safety was on my mind when I invited three complete strangers into my home. I don’t know about you, but any time a random shooting occurs, I become hyper-sensitive about my own safety for weeks. So, allowing three men inside my house, while I’m home alone was a bit nerve-wracking. I don’t know this person. I hope he’s been vetted by the warranty firm representing my best interests, but I have no idea what the requirements are to be added to their roster. I’m sure these vendors are expected to supply proof of insurance and a business license. But that’s for the company, not necessarily the person who shows up at my door.

Many of us invite repair techs and delivery personnel into our home or place of work, including a self-storage business, on a regular basis. It’s blind faith that this person will act in a professional manner and not, you know, cause us any harm! But it happens. Last month in Florida, two men delivered a washer and dryer to the home of a 75-year-old woman, who was home alone. After the machines were in place, one went outside to make a call, but soon heard screaming coming from the house. The other worker had doused the poor lady with a chemical and hit her in the head with a mallet. He then fled in the delivery truck. The woman died the next day from her injuries. The man was caught later and now faces several charges, including second-degree murder.

Many self-storage operators work alone every day. While the majority of people who walk through your office door present no threat, some will. In a recent thread on Self-Storage Talk, the industry’s largest online community, a manager experienced a moment of panic while arguing with the husband of a tenant. He was seeking access to the unit, but supposedly didn’t have the gate code. The argument became heated, and the man made a sudden move toward her, which scared her enough that reached for the mace she keeps on her desk. Scary, right?

Self-storage operators, especially those who spend long stretches on the property alone, have learned to become attuned to possible danger. Whether they call it a “gut feeling” or “Spidey senses,” these operators can easily spot a problem before it progresses, and they act accordingly. This might include declining a rental prospect due to red flags, keeping the office locked during certain times to avoid “off the street” guests, or calling law enforcement when a situation gets out of hand. All smart moves.

Sadly, we’re living in dangerous times, and everyone needs to be alert and prepared in case something bad goes down. If you don’t have an emergency plan in place, create one. There are so many resources online that can walk you through what to do in case of a robbery, shooting or other unsafe situation. Of course, the hope is that you never need to use this knowledge, but you must have it.

And if something seems off, it likely is. You know the saying: “see something, say something.” If you you’ve got a bad feeling, there’s a reason. But a word of caution: Let the authorities do their job. Money and property can be replaced, but people can’t. Be cautious, but be smart.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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