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Break in at our units

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  • Break in at our units

    To preface this, we are in a rural area where it's extremely rare to find storage units with a fence, gate, office, etc. Much like 95% of the other storage unit businesses around, we do not have those things. We do have security cameras and an on-site computer in a utility room that records the camera feed as well as bright lights on the buildings which is a lot more than most other units around here.

    Over the weekend someone broke into a dozen of our units (we are not full at this point since we only recently opened this location). Saturday morning all was well, and on Monday morning a renter called saying his unit was broken into. We suspect the thieves started with our ADA compliant door. They smashed the door lever with a hammer-type object which busted it. They left that unit alone since it was a trailer and they must have been looking for small items. That must have been so easy to get into that they headed to the next door like that which is our utility room. They stole the computer so we have no access to any of the camera feeds. (We haven't gotten remote access yet for various reasons.)

    It looks like they started by grabbing (and then ripping off) the pull rope that one of the units with a roll up door had visible. That didn't work so they went to the lock. They couldn't cut through the disc locks, so they literally smashed them off. The door latches were all mangled on three of the units. The non-disc locks were cut.

    It completely stinks that they stole the computer and we have no video to view. However, even if we had it, it's possible for them to have parked down the road, come in wearing a coat and ski mask, and we still couldn't identify them.

    So what we're thinking:
    -Get cylinder locks and strongly suggest all renters use them. (Can't smash them off.)
    -When the ground thaws, look into hooking up to internet and get remote access to our cameras.
    -Door alarms for all units? Don't know much about them yet
    -Deadbolt on utility door
    -Alarm on utility door
    -Look into other options to keep the ADA doors more secure yet compliant (any suggestions??)
    -Have cameras on the road
    -Have PD do occasional drive-bys
    -Have a sign indicating that they are on camera with remote access
    -A fence and gate would be prohibitively expensive at this location due to the shape.
    -With our Trac Rite doors that Trachte uses, Trac Rite doesn't sell any other latches that are stronger. Not sure if any other brands are stronger, and how much of a hassle it would be to retrofit our doors with them.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? The local PD didn't really have any good suggestions.

  • #2
    It sounds like you're on top of it. I'd add motion sensitive lights. Regular lighting then when there is motion brighter lights pop on so they realize that maybe there are cameras. I'd make the utility/camera room not accessible to the outside if possible.
    90% of what you're stressing about now won't even be relevant in a year. Breathe easy. ~Wesley Snipes

    WA State


    • #3
      Sorry to hear about this. Chateau sells a cylinder lock that is compatible with Trac-Rite's latches. The also sell two different stainless slide latches that will fit the door, however they will require drilling new holes.

      It does sound like you were doing things correctly for being a rural site. The fact that they found the computer that records the cameras is either a fluke or they knew something about how you operate the site.

      I wish I could give you some better ideas, but the reality is that if the thieves have that much time they will get in no matter what latch you use. I'm not going to get into details on how in a public forum but message me or find me at the ISS show next week if you want to hear some stories. A trail cam could be a stand alone option as a back up camera without the need for internet. On my site with each phase that I have added a put in a completely separate camera system and DVR, but that was mainly for redundancy on equipment failures.


      • #4
        One other idea that I had on this topic... while most security camera systems just record the data on a central DVR (and some have an option for remote viewing but even those don't always save everything in the cloud) there is another way to have a local back up. Some manufacturers make cameras that not only function as a standard IP (Internet Protocol) camera, but also record video to an internal SD card. Upgrading one or two of the cameras to this type would give you a backup of the comings and goings even if the recording unit is destroyed or stolen.


        • #5
          Steve gave you good advice, we use cameras that have an SD card backup like he stated, each camera has a 64 gb micro SD card in it.

          And like he said with the cyclinder locks, if someone wants in they will get in.

          One thing I didn't see mentioned was back plates? Do you have them on your latches so they can't be pulled out from the door?


          • #6
            We are not rural, but for us we have the following in place:
            1. A stand alone security system that is on site, but is viewable online or on our phone
            2. A self monitored door/window/motion sensors for the office (these will notify us if any are set off via text message)
            3. A very loud alarm
            4. Signage and lots of cameras, some that you can't reach to disable
            5. A back-up security system with cameras at "choke" points throughout the facility in case our main system goes down or is compromised.
            6. We have agreements with the city and county for drive-bys, and also offer them storage at no cost.

            Just some suggestions. Nothing can prevent break-ins 100% but every little thing helps


            • #7
              A secure facility needs either a security company with 1/2 hour to 1 hour patrols if there is not going to be on site manager. In this day and age of the drugged out entitled thieving thugs out there, this facility has their mouths watering. Unless someone/security can be there/get there soon the place just looks like a gold mine to the thieves. I think the motion activated brighter lights can help as well as a good camera system that can send alerts to the owner/manager if a unit is setting off a unit alarm when being tampered with.

              I have also heard of people that get hired to live on a property like this in their own trailer that are supplied with water and electrical and the means to get to a sewer dump and maybe even a pittance of money, will watch the facility and do a decent job because they don't want to lose their spot.

              My American Legion post has a vet that does just that and watches over the post building, grounds, outdoor tent areas.....etc.
              "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


              • #8
                Thanks everyone for your suggestions! We are working with a local security company to ramp up our security on many levels and have it monitored 24/7. If a thief wants to break in they'll find a way, but we plan on making it far more difficult.


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