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Busted a thief

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  • Busted a thief

    Upon doing a site inventory at my larger facility last spring, I came across 2 units that were active rentals with locks missing. The units seemed full. I immediately contacted the tenants to inspect/lock up their units. One tenant had a drum set and power wheelchair (rascal) missing. The tenant hadn't been to their unit in nearly 2 months . The DVR with my security system only holds about 3 weeks of data so I was unable to identify any suspicious vehicles on the video I had. I hadn't been doing regular inventories up to that point (newbie mistake which I've since rectified).

    Fast forward to this past December. I was working my way through the facility one afternoon sweeping out vacant units and came across 6 units with locks missing. I immediately contacted each tenant. I texted pictures of the unit contents to each and offered to lock up their units until they could come replace the locks. All replied that all of their property seemed to be there. All agreed to have me lock up their units except one. The one tenant declined saying he would be there within couple hours to inspect his unit and lock it up. What could go wrong in a couple hours, right?

    Later that night, I got a call from this tenant stating that a significant amount of his property (musical equipment) was missing between the time I contacted him and the time he arrived (about 3 hours later). I was immediately able to find the culprit's vehicle and license plate info on my surveillance footage and forwarded it to the Sheriff's office. They found some of his property the next day at a music store and arrested him a couple days later.

    His girlfriend/baby-mama offered to let the police inspect their detached garage that he never allowed her to open. It was filled to the brim with stolen goods that she was supposedly unaware of. As it turns out, this had been his MO for close to a year at storage facilities all over the area. He would cut random locks and "shop", returning later to pick up items he thought he could sell. He was doing this in broad daylight.

    The detective told me they've been able to solve more than a dozen storage unit burglaries in a three county area based on what they found in his garage. My thief has been in the county jail since mid-December on $60k bond and has a trial set for mid-March. Never thought I'd have to deal with this kind of thing, but definitely learned a hard lesson about staying on top of lock checks.

  • #2
    Great Catch on your part AND theirs. Most facilities/management companies request a walk through every week to keep an eye on this type of activity along with catching people who are attempting to live in a unit for cheap rent.

    Glad you came out unscathed.
    Tall Terri

    The customer's fantasy doesn't always match with reality!


    • #3
      I go thru my facility every single day, including my day off.
      "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


      • #4
        We do daily lock checks as well. It's best to catch any possible mischief ASAP in order to hopefully find whoever is responsible (and prevent any additional theft, etc). I have found units with their doors left wide open and latches open with the lock on more times than I can count


        • #5
          Awesome! I want the police to catch my second thief but we're 50% there.
          90% of what you're stressing about now won't even be relevant in a year. Breathe easy. ~Wesley Snipes

          WA State


          • #6
            I'm doing daily checks now at both facilities. I guess this is one of the downsides to operating without on-site management.


            • #7
              Good Job! I rented to a known thief once, knowing better all the time. Early one morning I got a call at home from the PD telling me I needed to come out to one of my facilities. Seems ANOTHER thief had thought my tenant had stolen something from him, so he hooked a chain up to his pickup and pulled the door off the building!

              BTW, I'm hoping your tenant didn't expect to get much for that Rascal. I've got two that I can't hardly give away!


              • #8
                Originally posted by pacnwstorage View Post
                I go thru my facility every single day, including my day off.
                Yep. A lot harder to catch these things if you only check a facility once a week or month or never. Also important to keep an eye on people entering the facility (especially new tenants). If they go anywhere but the are of their unit, I immediatley go out and do some "random garbage pickup". Can't do this 100% of the time, but when it's slow its very easy to do.


                • #9
                  I "visit" tenants on the facility all the time. I watch and come up and ask how they are doing and look in the unit when it is open to see if they are storing anything I have told them they can't store and if a vehicle of some sort is in there that does not have oil drip protection under it and that I don't have a copy of the title or registration. When I show a unit I warn all tenants how nosy I am. I tell them now is the time to speak up if that bothers them.
                  "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


                  • #10
                    You can't make up stories like this made. I bet a lot of the storage unit owners in the area must be clapping you on the back for this one! You've helped a lot of them by getting rid of this thief. I just hope this kid's wife or girlfriend does a better job with their kid!
                    Christopher James


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