Preventing and Addressing Self-Storage Crime

A Business Plan Needs A Marketing Plan.

A marketing plan needs a security plan:

  • To attract customers with goods to secure;
  • To deter and repel crooks who want those goods;
  • To protect your investment.
    Why You are The Biggest Loser
    when crime finds your facility.

Create a Road Map to Security.

  • Start your security planning at the curb by
    creating sight lines into your facility.
  • Place barriers such as rocks and shrubs at
    the base of your fence.
  • Place lights that broadcast your security.

Make your Gate an Access Control Point.

  • Assign your gate codes. Most customers will make any easy one. Tell them that you assign codes “for their
    protection.” [It is, but it’s also for yours. You don’t want “roamers” on the site.]
  • Have an entry and an exit point. You want visitors to be trackable.

When You Select Cameras, Focus on Placement, Not Quantity.

  • Who is the key audience for your lobby monitors? Customers? Potential thieves? Your manager? You online?
  • Have an array for show pointing out, and a screen facing inward for the manager. Don’t forget: Cameras Record Crime, They Don’t Stop It.

Is Your Manager Your Greatest Asset or Your Greatest Threat?

  • A well-trained manager can sell your features, screen your renters and maintain visibility to prevent crime, dangerous activities and vandalism.
  • A poorly-trained or dishonest manager can rob you and your customers, infiltrate your data and information, help his criminal associates and compromise your security.

Is Your Computer An Asset or A Liability?

  • Protect your assets and information by setting strict access levels.
  • Protect against hacking by

    • Ensuring PCI-compliant software*
    • Verifying SOC1 accounting controls*
    • Considering a “penetration test.”*
      Don’t be a headline:
      “Self-Storage computer data hacked.”

*Don’t know what this means? Ask your software provider, and demand a clear answer.

Invest in The Final Line of Defense: Locks on The Unit Door

  • “Your lock, your key” lets the customer set the security level at your facility.
  • Since you offer insurance, the customer loses little with a cheap lock.
  • You lose your reputation, and damage your investment.

Require or Offer Locks and Lock Systems That Stop Thieves.

  • A pin tumbler padlock belongs on a yard shed, not a self-storage unit.
  • Don’t be fooled by a “round padlock.” All disk locks are not alike. Select one with a pick and drill resistant keyway.
  • Consider a cylinder lock system to deliver security that attracts renters and repels crooks.

What is a “Bump Key”?

  • If you think a generic padlock deters crime, just search “Bump Key” on Google or YouTube and be afraid.
  • A medium or high security lock just might send that crook down the road.

Why Cylinder Locks?

  • Flush mount system integrated with latch. No shackle or lock body to cut.
  • Available with tubular or high security (virtually pick and drill proof) keyways.
  • All units look the same. No “easy road map” for thieves.

Require Insurance or an Insurance Waiver to Protect Your Investment.

  • Discuss with your attorney how to set liability limits for renters in your lease.
  • Make the renter sign to acknowledge that he or she has selected or refused insurance.
  • Restrict the type and value of property to be stored, or require a waiver of liability*.

* May not hold up in court. Consult with your attorney.

What’s New?

  • Automated facilities built around “24 hour” kiosks promise hands free management.
  • The questions you must ask: How do you

    • maintain control of the site?
    • lock and unlock empty units?
    • restrict access to individual sections?
    • ensure on site renter safety?


  • A Business Plan needs a Security Plan.
  • You risk more from poor security than your renter.
  • Select your manager carefully.
  • Make a security lock the final line of defense.

Questions for You

  • Do you have contacts with local law enforcement?
  • Does your local planning board require a security plan?
  • Is there drug activity in your area?
  • Do you calculate cost per unit for security?


Presented at Inside Self-Storage World Expo, April 3, 2013, Las Vegas, NV.

Thanks to the following for their information and insight:
Jim Chiswell, Jim DiNardo, Jeffrey Goldberger, Markus Hecker, Norm Kotoch, jr., Mike Sawyer.

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