Recent news publicity has done storage facilities no favours, but the right security can avoid many of the problems and crimes we see splashed across our TV screens.
The recent primetime television news coverage of a grisly murder in Sydney showed the whole community that storage lots can be the scene of serious crimes.
Theft, illegal firearms stashes, drug hauls, assault with or without a weapon and now murder have all taken place on Self Storage lots. It sounds more like a TV drama than a business. These unfortunate events certainly attract public attention, but this kind of attention is the last thing we want for our storage lots.
But there are ways to ensure that your storage facility doesn’t make the news bulletins in an unkind light.
How can you make your site secure for your customers – and yourself?
While there is a myriad of options available for securing storage lots, they all boil down to three basic methods — hardware, software, and human oversight and intervention.
Criminals, like anyone else, prefer to take the easiest path. If they can see security measures they are less likely to target a site.
Some common, and highly visible, hardware solutions include gates and fences, controlled access, alarms, and combinations of lights and CCTV.
Fencing is your first line of defence, and really must be up to the task of keeping intruders out. You want something high, solid and intimidating.
Gates provide both easy access and solid deterrence. To ensure they can deliver both, the best gates are accessible via a keypad or are monitored by an employee.
Access control keypads provide the best deterrence against intruders. Most criminals don’t have the expertise or patience to figure out a PIN, so would rather use a bolt cutter to clip through a lock.
If you do use a simple gate with bolts, chains and locks, avoid bolt locks in favour of disks.
Individual door alarms are an effective deterrent, and provide site managers with the technology to send immediate notifications of attempted break-ins via SMS to clients and police.
A significant factor in CCTV’s deterrence value is their visibility. Visible security is one of the best preventative measures you can take. By setting up CCTV surveillance at the entrance to the lot both customers and criminals can see the video cameras. That visibility provides a deterrent to criminals and reassurance to clients.
Of course lights provide immediate deterrence. Automating lighting systems to turn on at night and off during the day is a simple but effective way of increasing your security levels.
Software is an essential tool for effective property management. While it helps track finances, taxes and empty units, it is also useful for security purposes. Software and hardware integration enables managers to set up automatic alerts whenever an alarm is triggered on the property.
Software can also keep track of customers over an extended period of time. While the vast majority of customers are honest, it is customers who commit most storage lot crimes.
If someone is caught in illegal activities on the lot, the appropriate software will keep records to prevent that person from purchasing a storage unit in the future.
Hardware and software are made significantly more effective when used by a person who knows them thoroughly.
Personal oversight can provide on-the-spot checks to make sure every part of the facility is well lit and visible by camera. An effective manager will develop a comprehensive system of policies and procedures and make sure they’re adhered to by staff. These might include checking CCTV at certain times every day, nightly walk-throughs, and ensuring gates are in operation during specific times.
The manager should also have a good relationship with local police, and maintain a clean, uncluttered lot.
If a storage facility is properly secured and managed the only activities will be people filling units with stuff and stuff sitting safely inside those units. Save the drama for the soapies — when it comes to storage lockers, boring is definitely better.