Self-storage units are a handy way to protect your possessions while you're in the midst of a move, and they can help you achieve an uncluttered basement or garage by acting as a repository for things that you don't need every day but still want to keep. However, an unprotected self-storage unit can also be a treasure trove for thieves. Your storage unit doesn't have next-door neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, and the facility may not even be staffed at night, making it an easy target. Take a look at how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of self-storage theft.
Choose the Right Facility
Security starts with choosing a storage facility that takes appropriate measures to protect its customers' belongings. While it's important to make sure that a storage unit has the features you want – like large units, mini storage units, and/or climate control – you also need to pay attention to the security offered by the facility.
Video cameras are a good start when it comes to self-storage security, but keep in mind that the primary purpose of a video camera is to identify thieves after a theft has taken place. While the presence of cameras might deter some thieves who see them, they aren't enough by themselves.
You should also look for a facility that is well-lit at night, so that burglars are less likely to be able to sneak in unseen. Access control systems that require each renter to type in a personalized code to enter can also help prevent thieves from breaking in. For the height of security, look for a storage facility that provides individual alarms on each door. It's possible for a burglar to legitimately gain access to a storage facility by renting a unit themselves, but individual alarms alert the storage facility operators if someone enters a unit that they aren't authorized to enter.
Choose the Right Lock
If your storage facility allows you to purchase your own lock, in addition to or instead of a lock provided by the storage facility, the best thing that you can do is to choose a lock that deters burglars.
A burglar is likely to bypass a lock by using a pair of bolt cutters to cut it off, so look for locks that aren't easily cut. A strong cylinder lock or disk lock that requires a key can be a good choice. Ask a local locksmith to recommend a highly rated lock. Locks with long shackles (the part that loops through the lock hole) are the easiest to cut through and should be avoided.
Pack Your Storage Unit Carefully
You can also pack your unit in a way that minimizes the loss if a theft occurs. Many storage unit thefts are quick "smash and grab" jobs. The thieves break in, quickly grab whatever looks the most valuable, and get out as quickly as they can. Storing your most valuable items at the back of the unit or underneath less valuable items minimizes the chance that a thief will spot them, and may make them too much trouble to go after.
Avoid storing sensitive documents in your storage units if you can. Along with traditional burglars, identity thieves also find their way into storage units, and will look for files containing things like birth certificates, social security cards, or bank statements. You're better off keeping these types of documents in your home in a safe, or in a safety deposit box at the bank.
Self-storage is most useful when you take the right security measures to protect yourself. These precautions can go a long way to helping your guard your most valuable possessions.