Answering Your Safety Concerns about Self Storage

Jon Fesmire |
When you need extra room for your belongings, there are few solutions as inexpensive as self storage. You may need it to help facilitate a move, as a place to keep business inventory, or simply as somewhere to keep things you need sometimes, but not all the time. One advantage of self storage is that it rents for less per square foot than residential or commercial space. However, you might worry about how safe self storage is. Stories of self storage theft tend to get around. We want to assure you it is, on average, safer than a home or office. However, theft sometimes happens, so it pays to understand self storage security, including how to find the most secure property and how you can make your space even more secure.

Is Theft Common at Storage Properties?

The amount of theft in storage properties is tough to quantify, and few reports are available. Inside Self Storage has a page that reports incidents, and while at a glance it may seem concerning, when you scroll down the page you can see that, with all the self storage properties across the U.S. and in the world, the number of crimes listed here is minimal. We’re sharing this because we’re confident about the security in the industry. Naturally, there are security measures that work better than others, and they should factor into your search for a property where you’ll feel comfortable storing your belongings. Once you’ve found a property you like, you can take extra measures to keep your stuff safe.

What Steps to do Self Storage Properties Take to Keep my Belongings Safe?

Self storage uses a variety of security measures to protect the property and your belongings. You can think of it as layered. First, there’s a fence or wall and a gate. To get through the gate, tenants use an access code, and many properties make sure that you can’t enter twice with the same code, not before exiting. All properties should also have good lighting, preferably motion-activated so that when people enter at night, the outdoor and hallway lights come on automatically. Properties also need a camera system that should run 24/7, covering all the hallways and outdoor areas. Many properties also work with a security firm that monitors their cameras. Next, there’s the alarm system. All properties should have one that will go off if someone breaks in. The next step up is having individually alarmed spaces that tenants can turn off when they need to access their space, and on when they leave. These can reduce theft, both as a deterrent, and catch thieves before they can get away. When someone breaks into a property, it’s hard to be sure where they’re going. Cameras help, but it helps more when a space alarm goes off and shows exactly where the criminals are. Make sure you feel like your stuff is safe with the security offered before you rent from a self storage property.

What Kind of Lock Should I Use?

There are two sorts of locks we, and most properties, recommend for storage: disc locks and cylinder locks. In the past, we’ve covered these types and others. The most important thing to know is that disc locks have thick bars that are more durable and difficult to cut than most. It’s also harder to get bolt cutters around them. It’s not impossible, as properties will sometimes cut through them if necessary, but it does add a lot of protection. Cylinder locks are interesting in that, when put in place, they look like part of the locking plate. You would be excused if you thought a bolt lock was built into the door. When put in place, a cylinder lock looks like an ordinary keyhole. One can’t get bolt cutters around cylinder locks, making them very secure. If you’re lucky, you may find a property with the Noke Smart Entry system by Janus International. This brings security to the next level. Instead of using a code at the gate, you would use a specialized app and Bluetooth on your phone to enter the grounds. You would use the same app to enter the building, and into your individual space. There’s no bar to cut, and without your access information, no one unauthorized can open your unit door.

What Else Can I Do to Protect My Belongings?

The important thing to remember, if a thief gets this far, is that they’ll be in a hurry. Therefore, they’ll grab what they can from the front of a space without checking what it is. So, how can you protect your most valuable things? Store them in the back of a space, preferably in nondescript bins or boxes. Many properties recommend against storing especially valuable items in storage, but chances are you will store items of value. Maybe you won’t keep your most expensive jewelry in there, but you may store electronics, art, and more. Keep those hidden in the back. This goes for personal and sales items. If you run a business, keep your most valuable inventory behind everything else. Finally, always remember to lock your space and, if it has an alarm, turn that on before you leave. That is honestly the best way to protect your stored belongings. When you’re ready to begin your search for a storage space, check out our “Storage by City” link on the main StorageFront page.