by Mark Lusky
Crises may pump up adrenaline junkies, but for most of us, avoiding them is preferable. Self-storage owners can radically reduce the number of property brushfires related to security just by following a few straightforward, relatively inexpensive guidelines. These include:
Surveillance Cameras. Use them as more than window dressing. Non-operational cameras can convey a false sense of security. Then, if there's a problem that should have been caught on tape, the self-storage owner is left to explain why it wasn't working. With today's reasonably priced systems, a self-storage owner can get this benefit without breaking the bank. Another tip: Look into motion-activated systems that lower the actual amount of footage and make it easier to pinpoint an incident
Inventory Forms and Video. Just like in a home setting, having a complete list of what's there along with photos or video can eliminate headaches for everyone in case of a problem. Recommend to renters preparation of a complete inventory. Help this process along by providing a form they can complete
Start/Stop Checklist. Make it clear to renters what is and is not acceptable (or preferable) to store (address hazardous and combustible materials, items that should be in a climate-controlled environment, etc.)
Gate Guarding. Just as with a castle, the gate is the focal point for entry and exit. Make sure your gate access system is all it can be (short of putting a moat in front of it), to keep the "good guys" safe and the "bad guys" out. One measure is to require drivers to enter a code both when entering and exiting (to discourage a thief's ability to get out quickly). As part of this gate system, consider faster opening/closing of gates to prevent someone from sneaking in by riding the bumper of the vehicle ahead
Locks and more locks. Anything that makes it more difficult for thieves is worth considering. Having a combination/keypad lock on each unit in addition to the owner's lock may send a would-be thief packing (or in this case, not packing)
Tracking systems. From radio frequency (RFID) devices to inexpensive alarms, renters can get serious about protecting themselves without spending huge sums. Make suggestions to them. One to consider is RFID devices that can be attached to unit items; if not first disarmed, the device will trigger an alert when the item is moved. Another, very inexpensive option is to suggest buying a self-installed alarm (available at big box stores) for around $15 that has a programmable code and delay-and place it inside the unit. When the rightful renter enters the unit, he/she simply disarms the alarm using a personalized code. If a would-be thief enters, the alarm will give out an ear-piercing shriek after the delay period ends.