How to Make Sure That Your Stuff Will be Safe in Storage

Jon Fesmire |

When looking for a storage unit, one of the most common concerns is security. It’s important to find a storage facility where your belongings will be safe. In addition to that, it’s important to know what you can do to protect your stored goods.

Security Features

There are certain security features that all self storage facilities should have, and others that make them really stand out. Let’s explore those, so you have a good idea what to look for.

  • Surrounding Wall: A wall should surround the self storage facility. We’re not talking about just any wall or fence. Ideally, it should be made of concrete and between 8 and 10 feet high, possibly with a spiked metal railing along the top. Essentially, it should be difficult to climb.

  • Gate: If a facility simply has a bar gate that opens up when you punch in your access code, avoid that facility. Anyone can simply walk past such a gate. Instead, the gate should be tall, metal, and difficult to scale.

  • Access Control: Most self storage facilities use keypads for access control. When you rent a unit, you’ll get a unique code allowing you to access the grounds. You’ll find at least two such pads: one outside the gate, so that you can punch in your code, opening the gate, allowing you to drive in, and one inside the gate, to let you out. Some facilities also have them on the outside walls beside hallway doors, allowing tenants inside access.

  • Lighting & Motion Detection: When you enter a hallway, or when night falls, you need good lighting to get to and leave your unit. All self storage facilities should have good outdoor and hallway lighting. They may also use motion detection. This allows the facility to save on their electricity bill because the lights will shine only when someone approaches. One advantage of this is that if lights come on after a facility has closed, and it’s not a security guard patrolling the premises, it’s a sign that someone has entered illegally. The lights coming on can alert security where a potential thief is.

  • Camera System: Make sure that any facility you’re considering has a camera system that covers the grounds and all hallways. Of course, that system needs to be monitored by the staff, a security company, or both. Often, in the front office, you’ll see an array of screens showing the grounds, which means the facility monitors its cameras.

  • Alarm system: Ask about the facility’s alarm system, which should go on at night. Should anyone break in, the alarm system will alert the manager. Most facilities have an alarm system for the grounds, and that’s enough. However, some even have an alarm on each unit, so that if a thief opens one, the system alerts the manager as to exactly which unit has been breached.

  • Resident Managers: A resident manager lives in a home on the facility grounds. You’ve probably seen this at various self storage facilities. It helps to have a manager on the premises for two reasons. It serves as a deterrent to would-be thieves, and the manager can easily check the cameras should a break-in occur and call the police. Not all facilities have a resident manager, but you can consider it a bonus when they do.

Storing Your Items to Avoid Theft

Now, what’s the best way to store your most valuable possessions to protect them in the unlikely event of a break-in?

When thieves do get into storage units, they are usually in a hurry, knowing that they could be caught any moment. Because of this, they have no time to dig through boxes or to load everything. They’ll be able to grab a few things, and that’s all. Perhaps there’s a flatscreen television or old computer right at the entrance, for example. Thieves will shove those into the back of a car and drive off.

The last place they would ever get to is down low at the back of a unit. You can protect items of both financial and sentimental value by putting them in the boxes that go at the back of the unit underneath other boxes, and behind everything. In general, store the most valuable things at the back of your unit, making it highly unlikely that an intruder could ever get to them.

In general, self storage facilities are extremely safe. Follow the instructions here, and you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to your stored belongings.