Proper storage facility security typically goes beyond putting a padlock on a door. While that may work for the least picky of people, most renters want to know that their items are safe from theft. After all, just because an item is in storage doesn’t mean it’s not important to a person (Fun fact: one of the most expensive items ever stolen from a storage unit was a $1.5 million Superman comic book belonging to Nicholas Cage, which was later recovered). So, let’s dive into the importance of self storage security and different types of self storage security solutions.
Importance of Self Storage Security
Self storage security not only helps bring in customers, it can keep your business out of legal trouble (and save you money in the long run). Aside from keeping out thieves, of course, here are the top three reasons to invest in self storage security.
Items in storage are typically not “out of sight, out of mind.” Many people store important items because they simply may not have room at home or they may be in the process of moving. So, security matters. Studies show that 62% of renters are looking for appropriate security at a storage facility.
Avoid Legal Issues
Proper security can help you avoid legal issues should something happen to a tenant’s belongings (of course, you should never guarantee security; simply highlight your security measures). Consider the case of Dilbeck v. Yates, in which a break-in resulted in a tenant’s items being stolen.
When the tenant initially signed the lease agreement, the facility manager had stated that the facility had never been broken into before, when in fact there had been several incidents in the past. The tenant argued that had he known that, he would never have rented in the first place. The court ruled in the tenant’s favor, and the facility had to pay for the value of the stolen goods (just imagine if it had been that Superman comic book!). With proper security, of course, such an incident may never have occurred. Read more about security incidents in Inside Self-Storage.
Reduce Insurance Costs
If you’re building a self storage facility from the ground up, starting out with a high level of security is sure to earn you a lower insurance premium. And, if you’re renovating an existing facility, adding new security features can also improve your property from a risk-management perspective and potentially lower your insurance costs. From an insurance underwriter’s view, building and security upgrades to older structures and premises are considered a positive action and will be reflected in the premium analysis.
7 Types of Self Storage Security
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of self storage security, what are some of the best ways to secure it? Here are seven considerations that can turn your self storage facility into a very secure fortress!
1. Perimeter Fencing
Fencing is a basic first step toward preventing theft, however, you don’t want to get so carried away that the facility looks like a prison. If you’ve installed many of the other security features on this list, you may not need fencing. Then again, you’ll want to consider heavy-duty commercial fencing that is climb and cut-resistant in the following circumstances:
- You’re located in a high-crime area
- Your facility (or others in the area) have been targeted by thieves in the past
- You’re allowing cars, boats, and other large items of value to be stored outside of units
2. Perimeter Intrusion Alarms
Let’s face it, fences can be scaled or cut. So, along with perimeter fencing, you may want to consider perimeter intrusion alarms or perimeter intrusion detection (PID). These are installed to detect climb-over, cut-through, and break-through activity along your perimeter fence or wall.
Most systems work by detecting vibration or tilting, indicating a climb-over, or the lifting of gates or windows while others work using acoustic sensing technology. Either way, when suspicious activity is detected, you’ll be altered and an interactive map will generally show you exactly where the activity occurred.
3. Gate and Unit Access Control
The most basic self storage security systems consist of a keypad that opens a gate when the correct code is entered. More advanced access control systems integrate with your software and provide in-software alerts showing access histories, including who is on-site at any given moment (this includes not just tenants, but managers, lawn care teams, maintenance workers, and construction crews).
Advanced unit access control systems, such as the NOKĒ® Smart Entry system, use a Bluetooth electronic lock and total access control system that allows customers to access their self-storage facility and individual unit from their smartphones. This prevents theft that can occur due to lost or duplicate keys.
4. Lighting and Motion Sensors
Bright lighting is essential for any self storage facility as thieves are wary of well-lit locations; flood lights, area lights, and canopy lights are all good options for creating a secure environment. Motion sensors are also ideal, even if you offer 24-hour access. Renters will appreciate the lighting, and burglars are likely to back off as soon as lights are triggered while they’re trying to creep around in the shadows.
As a bonus, motion sensor lights can greatly lower energy costs (and lengthen the lifespan of expensive LED lights) because they’re only triggered by movement.
Video surveillance is a no-brainer, providing an ideal way to thwart burglars, deter crime, and monitor activity on-site. There are many types of security cameras available, with DVR motion cameras offering the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom to monitor activity at the facility. These cameras also record high-definition surveillance footage any time motion is detected onto a secure hard drive where it is preserved and will continue recording until motion has completely ceased. This is better than continuous monitoring, as it makes it easier for security experts to find what they’re looking for if there is a break-in.
Some of these cameras also have the option of sending notifications to the owner or manager’s smartphone when motion is detected (just be sure to turn down the sensitivity so you’re not alerted to the presence of a raccoon at three o’clock in the morning).
6. Proximity to Police
If you haven’t begun construction on your facility and are scoping for a new location, it’s always a good idea to try to set up shop near a police station. Not only will officers be nearby in the event of a break-in, but thieves are less likely to attempt a robbery in the first place if they know the police are just around the corner.
7. Security Guards
On-site security is a great deterrent when it comes to thieves but it can be very costly. So, while we don’t necessarily recommend them at all times, they’re a great temporary option if there has been a rash of break-ins in the area or your facility has recently been targeted by thieves.
Don't Skimp When it Comes to Self Storage Security!
Secure storage facilities are quickly becoming the norm, and today’s renters have a certain expectation when it comes to protecting their belongings. Not only will self storage security help attract customers, reduce insurance premiums, and help you avoid legal trouble, it’s also a way to compete with REITs, which typically have larger budgets and employ these means of security.
If you’re looking for advice or help setting up your self storage security systems, consider joining the Storelocal cooperative. You’ll get exclusive deals on vendors, lower your operational costs, and align with self-storage industry thought leaders who will have additional insight into security. Interested in learning more about cooperatives or need some self storage ideas? Join Storelocal now.