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How to Handle Search Warrants for Units

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  • How to Handle Search Warrants for Units

    Hi Gang! Happy Holidays!

    Is there anything special to know about how to handle a Sheriff's Deputy showing up and saying he will be back on Monday afternoon (if all goes as planned) with a search warrant for Unit XXX?

    The officer called me on Sunday morning and I came home from the gym to get him the info he asked for on one of our tenants who apparently is involved in criminal activity and using one of our units as a hub. Bummer. I've had a detective come over before saying he was tracking a drug ring out of a different unit (ack) but he never ended up getting a search warrant. (I think everyone ended up in jail before it got to that point!)

    The officer is definitely legit with a business card and a big black SUV that says Sheriff on the side and the full police get up... just wondered if there is anything else I need to be aware of as the facility manager before I let the police come in and cut off this guy's lock!


  • #2
    Number 1 they will likely not come prepared to cut off the lock. My experience is they will want you to cut off the lock.

    Just inspect the unit, and I would plan on observing the police just so you witness what happens.

    Also make sure you review the search warrant and make sure there aren't typos or anything along those lines.


    • #3
      Thanks, Randy! I wish people would just store holiday decorations and bed frames in storage units. Not stolen goods, guns and ammo and illegal drugs!! Gaaa.


      • #4
        Sorry this is late, but my experience is they will be very detailed on their warrant. Even down to where the unit is located...not just the number. I've always had to cut the lock off for the police and that's probably better because then it sets the stage for you to be there through the whole search. Watch everything and even take photos. Most of the officers don't like their faces in the pictures...or at least the ones I've dealt with because they are undercover or are detectives but usually don't mind if you document for your protection. I will let them look at whatever they want, but nothing leaves the building until they have a warrant. By that I mean, there have been times when I've had extensive video of them coming and going and what they are bring in and it helps the officer, but they can't get copies of the video until I get a warrant. I'm all for helping but CYA. Once they are done tossing the unit then you'll have to relock it. I generally coordinate with the officers about when I can send the tenant an immediate vacate letter. Once the officers show up with a search warrant I want them out. The second they say I can do it, I send the letter and make them vacate immediately. In the mean time you usually have to post the warrant in an obvious place. So you keep a copy and you put one inside the unit so if the tenant arrives they will see it. I've even called them for some reason or another to get them to the storage so the officers could arrest them. I now have K-9 units that have their own code and they train their dogs at my first facility and hopefully will start doing it at the second one too. I'm all about anyone and everyone knowing I work with the police so no one wants to store that crap or do that crap in my building. Good luck! I hope it went well.
        "Don't feed the locals."


        • #5
          Check out this article.
          Amy Campbell
          Inside Self-Storage



          • #6
            Document everything. Pics of everything. Make sure you make copies of anything, all pages, they present you as giving them access to the unit. Ask for their I.D. and if they will not let you copy them then write down all that is on the I.D. Be there when the unit is opened and if you are by yourself, STOP. Make sure you have a person/backup with you that will see all you do. You cannot document or video enough/too much to cover yourself. They cannot make you do what you cannot verify. PERIOD! I had FBI here once and they told me all that I did was the best they had seen.
            "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


            • #7
              Not sure I see how Camera Footage would need a search warrant. Honestly id rather help the police then slow things down. If someone is doing illegal things in your facility, then get them out asap.

              I agree that you must CYA when it comes to tenants and their units... but anything outside of those four metal walls belongs to me and you on my property.


              • #8
                Downloading video to a flash drive is different than a search warrant. The crime has supposedly already happened when you give the flash drive to the police to help you locate the culprits. A search warrant is to allow them access to one of your tenants units and items and if I am allowed to video tape that entry/access I will do it.
                "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


                • #9
                  I had the police here with a search warrant. We drilled the lock and let them do their thing. They already knew the unit number, the tenants name, they make sure they have it all in order. When they leave they put a copy of the warrant in the unit. There is a thing going on up here where the females will come in and rent the unit and then their friends put the stolen property in the units. I am on to them already. When they come in to rent a unit I emphasize that our cameras record not just for show. Better to have the police on your side and help them out.

                  I had an FBI agent flash his badge at me the other day. I just said which one of my crazies are you after now. He was here on that prior search warrant and remembered me. luckily the ones he was after did not rent here.
                  Janice - Maxi-Space Storage and Business Solutions


                  • #10
                    ALWAYS cooperate with the police. I literally just attended a two day legal seminar and the POLICE came and presented for an hour with their K9 (She was so cute!). They KNOW what they have to have.

                    Also be prepared to provide video (if you have), files, information, gate logs and payment history. They are looking for addresses, length of stay, how many times the person accessed and what forms of payment they use (typically cash). They will also look at alternate contacts and addresses. The one time we were served, the court order included all of these things.

                    You absolutely do not want criminals on your site. The police that spoke to us encouraged all of the owners to develop good relationships with local law enforcement.

                    I have attached a photo and do have permission to use. They presented at the Tennessee Self Storage Association Annual Legal Seminar & Conference this week.
                    Stephanie Tharpe
                    Senior VP of Operations
                    A+ Storage of Tennessee, LLC
                    Nashville, TN

                    TNSSA Board of Directors


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