June 12th, 2016 | Category: Fires
Firefighters took nine hours to bring a blaze under control that destroyed 100 storage units at the Storage Max facility in Topeka, KS on Thursday. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined but a member of the public who works next door to Storage Max said she heard multiple explosions before running outside to see the facility on fire.
Topeka Fire Department had to break into each of the building’s 100 individual units because the blaze spread throughout the structure. This is always a dangerous operation as firefighters have no way of knowing what is in each unit. Toxic chemicals and Propane/Oxygen Gas Cylinders present a particularly high level of risk.
One unit holder has lost a vintage Chevy Corvette and another has lost 40 years of accumulated antiques and collectibles stored in their three rental units. Many unit holders have yet to be notified that all of their storage items have been destroyed.
Insurance is of course essential if you have a storage unit but if you have valuable or irreplaceable family items then consider a storage unit with adequate fire protection and sprinklers.
April 5th, 2016 | Category: Fires
The cause of a fire at a Public Storage facility in Tampa, FL two days ago is unknown but what is known is that there were no fire sprinklers.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to the two-alarm fire in which 150 units were destroyed or suffered smoke and water damage. Structural damage is estimated at close to a million dollars with as yet unspecified losses by unit holders.
Nacole Ravette, spokeswoman for Hillsborough Fire Rescue, said that the building did not require sprinklers which considering the number of fires in storage facilities is an obvious omission in the regulations. Sprinklers may not prevent a fire from starting but they can help contain the fire after it starts.
January 20th, 2016 | Category: Security
Storage unit break-ins are very frequent and it is welcome news to hear of police charging suspects who have caused so much grief to large numbers of renters.
Fayetteville, NC police have been successful in apprehending three suspects wanted for a series of over 100 break-ins that occurred at various self-storage facilities last September.
Two of the suspects were arrested shortly after the break-ins following Fayetteville police publishing images taken from the storage facilities CCTV cameras. The third has been on the run but on Monday Chyeem Bobbitt, 23, was charged with 108 counts of breaking and entering, 17 counts of possessing stolen goods, 16 counts of larceny after breaking and entering, four counts of conspiracy, misdemeanor damage to property and fraud.
Left to right, Parrish, Flowers and Bobbitt
Previously apprehended were Nathaniel Parrish, 23, who was charged with 49 counts of breaking and/or entering, five counts of possessing stolen goods or property, five counts of larceny after breaking and entering, and three counts of conspiracy. Also Crismani Flowers, 20, who was charged with 47 counts of breaking and entering, five counts of possession of stolen goods, five counts of larceny after breaking and entering, and three counts of conspiracy.
Bail was set at $282,000 for Bobbitt and $255,000 for the other two and all three are currently in custody at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center.
January 6th, 2016 | Category: Fires
On the 5th January Taney County Fire Department attended a fire at F – Highway Storage, Branson, West MO. They managed to contain the fire to a single building but the building and the nineteen storage units suffered heavy damage. The Missouri State Fire Marshall’s office are investigating the cause of the fire.
Also on the 5th January a three alarm fire at Money Saver Mini Storage in Johnson Creek, Portland, OR destroyed at least 80 storage units. Many others suffered smoke and water damage. Arson investigators are still trying to find out how the fire started.
On 6th January several units were destroyed at Maycliff Mini Storage & RV Park, Las Vegas. Clark County Fire Department had to force or cut open 12 roll-up doors before determining the source of the fire, a unit containing motorcycles and motorcycle parts. Firefighters also discovered propane and oxyactelyene tanks in another unit. The cause of the fire fire remains under investigation.
December 13th, 2015 | Category: Security
Dickinson, ND Police Department have investigated 53 storage unit burglaries at seven different locations in the last month. In all cases the criminals used bolt cutters to gain entry to the storage units.
Dickinson storage facility Econo Storage accounted for 27 of the burglaries and they certainly made life easy for the criminals but more on that at the end of the post.
This is a good time for you to take a long hard look at your lock security and review some of our previous posts on the subject. For example, you can see a lock supplied by Public Storage picked in twenty seconds and a Brinks Laminated Steel Padlock with a hardened steel, chrome plated shackle cut with an angle grinder in under ten seconds in this post, self-storage locks.
As far as bolt cutters are concerned, take a look at this video:
$30 Brass and Steel Master Lock
$20 36″ Bolt Cutters
Here is the result…
In the past we have suggested locks like the M3 Medeco with a boron alloy shrouded shackle. at around $100. It may seem like a lot of money but when you find out that your unit was left intact when all the other units in your facility were broken into, it will feel like the best purchase you ever made.
However, it would not have prevented your unit at Econo Storage being burglarized with bolt cutters as you can see from the crime scene photo below.
December 15th, 2015 Update: Dickinson Police Department have arrested two men in connection with the rash of storage unit burglaries. Jesse Michael Hecker, 24, and Bryce Charles Reisenauer, 22, made appearances in court on Monday and Friday, respectively, for their alleged involvement in the crimes. Both were charged with burglary, theft of property and dealing in stolen property. Approximately $10,000 worth of stolen property has been recovered by Dickinson PD.
November 23rd, 2015 | Category: Security
Seven thefts in five days at the same facility must be a record even for Public Storage. Unit holders at the Public Storage Birmingham, AL facility have had TVs, household goods and sound equipment stolen over a five day period. One woman whose husband is a craftsman has had over $15,000 worth of tools stolen.
Public Storage are well known for their lack of security but this time they seem to have excelled themselves. Not only are their no surveillance cameras but there is no proper lighting and what little lighting there is goes off intermittently. To top it all the gate is broken and has been for some time.
Sgt Mike Mangina, Irondale Police Department said “Some of these victims are moving the rest of their property out because they don’t want to stay there, they think that it is unsafe. You know I would probably do the same thing.”
As we have said before if you are thinking of using a Public Storage facility you could save yourself the storage fees by dumping your stuff on the sidewalk with a notice “Help Yourself”.
November 13th, 2015 | Category: Security
Megan Wintersmith went to her storage unit at the Public Storage facility in Bridgeview, IL to find it totally trashed and valuable items missing. Brand new items including kitchen appliances, new bedding and a flat screen TV as well as older but valuable items had been stolen.
Given that Public Storage, headquartered in Glendale CA, probably has the worst reputation for service and customer relations of any self storage company in the world it is not surprising the the company did not bother to respond to her calls and emails.
It is also not surprising that when she asked an onsite employee about the CCTV cameras she was told that they had not worked for years.
So what is NOT surprising? The fact that according to Bridgeview Police Department there were three thefts at this facility in 2014 and there have been three so far this year.
Six thefts at the same facility and the CCTV cameras are still not working!
If you are thinking of using a Public Storage facility you could save yourself all the storage fees by dumping your stuff on the sidewalk with a notice “Help Yourself”.
Fortunately Megan Wintersmith had an insurance policy from another company and her claim was recently approved.
October 5th, 2015 | Category: General News
Self-storage customers at the Extra Space Storage facility in Fontana, CA were surprised to discover that they were sharing the premises with a convicted weapons dealer.
Steven Charles Durant was convicted in federal court in South Dakota in 1991 on charges related to unlawful possession and transfer of automatic weapons. He was sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison but escaped from a prison program in 1997 and went on the run for 16 years.
Last week Fontana police responded to a call of a suspicious person and vehicle and found Durant transferring weapons between his storage units and a U-Haul truck. He was immediately arrested and now faces multiple charges of possession of illegal firearms and explosive devices.
Officers seized more than 300 firearms including AK-47s, military-grade machine guns, spare parts to make illegal weapons and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition.
Chief Rod Jones of Fontana Police said “In 34 years I don’t think I have ever seen a seizure such as this”.
Regular readers will know that self-storage unit fires are not uncommon and if you have ever wondered why firefighters proceed with extra caution in storage facilities these two units full of ammunition are one of the reasons.
July 16th, 2015 | Category: General News
Storage Pros Self Storage has an interesting approach to security. Recently seven storage units were broken into at Storage Pros Wyoming, MI facility. When unit holders asked to see the security camera videos they were told they had not been working since July 2014 having being damaged by a tornado. The same excuse was used for not even having a front gate.
Up until the break in Storage Pros Wyoming facility webpage had mislead customers into believing that security was a priority, here is a quote “If you’re concerned about security, we’ve got your back – our location includes around-the-clock video surveillance, keypad accessible doors and motion sensors. We believe that the best kind of storage service is one that is both secure and simple”. Following the break in the text was deleted.
The lesson to be learnt here is that before you rent make sure the security claimed to be in operation does actually work. Don’t be afraid to ask for a demonstration, any responsible facility owner will be proud to show off the precautions they take to protect their customers possessions.
Non-working surveillance cameras are not an unusual occurrence. After 30 units were burglarized at an Atlantic Self Storage location in Jacksonville the Sheriff’s Office found that no video of the thieves or their vehicle existed even though there were video cameras targeting the main gate. It is also quite common for self-storage facilities to use dummy CCTV cameras.
May 28th, 2015 | Category: General News
The tornado that came through southwest Houston early Sunday morning caused extensive damage at Space Saver 9 Self Storage.
Many storage units were reduced to rubble, some just had the roof ripped of and a few remained intact. Renters turned up to see if they were one of the lucky ones with little or no damage but were not allowed on the property because it was declared unsafe. The owners say that once the site is made safe all unit holders will have to remove their belongings so reconstruction can begin.
If you are in a tornado prone area choose a self-storage facility with buildings constructed using reinforced concrete and steel supports. Avoid metal roofs as shearing winds can peel them off like a sardine can. Ask the facility manager to explain how their units are tornado safe.
Lastly check your insurance to make sure you are covered in the event of loss caused by a tornado.