Editor’s Note: This post has been reviewed and refreshed in October 2021 for accuracy and recency.
Self storage break-ins make great local news for two reasons: they usually involve big numbers, and they happen all the time.
A Florida facility, for example, saw nearly 3 dozen units broken into
in two hours.
And an Oklahoma man faces up to 90 years in prison
for breaking into just 10 units west of Oklahoma City. (There must be something he likes about storage units—he’s also linked to break-ins at nearly 70 more.)
As shocking as that sounds, however, a Montana man may have wished he was put in jail for a century after being ordered to pay $1.18 million in restitution
in recompense for his 2019 storage-related crime spree.
When it comes to self storage, though, break-ins aren’t the only nightmares that should be keeping you up at night. If you think you’re safe storing records in one of these insecure facilities, think again.
Insurance Just Doesn’t Have You Covered
You might think that an insurance policy or even just a “protection plan” purchased from a public storage facility will protect you in case anything happens to the things you keep there.
There are two problems with this protection, however.
First, a self storage company’s “protection plan” isn’t actually considered to be insurance by the state of California
Second, even a more traditional rental insurance policy can have some massive coverage holes.
Take New Jersey resident Scott Packwood
. Packwood had a rental policy that covered damage to his belongings caused by fire or theft. When his unit was flooded, he was informed that this policy didn’t actually cover water damage.
The bottom line? Flooding, landslides, and fire are big problems that every California company must prepare for. Unfortunately, public storage facilities are often ill-equipped to handle this kind of damage.
Public Storage Security Goes Unattended
Security at public storage facilities is often limited to locks and cameras—and even those aren’t much of a deterrent, according to numerous local news reports.
This lack of “security” offered with a traditional self storage unit
can result in huge losses.
For example, in the Chicago-adjacent neighborhood of Lincolnwood, a man storing a case of $1,200-a-bottle wine found his investment totally wiped out after a 2017 theft
. That’s a loss of $14,400. (Not to mention some primo vino.)
This weak security makes self storage facilities an easy target. In California alone, one study conducted by CBS 5
a decade ago showed 56 break-ins at 38 franchised self storage locations in just two years!
The problem’s not going away any time soon, either. In fact, just this summer in Glendale, thieves made off with $150,000 worth
of self-stored property.
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A Soldier’s Stolen Valor
It’s bad enough becoming a victim of a self storage break-in—but sometimes it can take weeks or months to even find out.
Alabama resident Matthew Causey discovered this the hard way when he visited his storage unit after returning home from a National Guard stint in Germany.
The decorated veteran’s unit had been broken into on Labor Day weekend
, and he wasn’t informed until his visit to the location more than a week later.
Thieves took not just the ammunition and training certificates he’d been storing there, but they also lifted the combat medals Causey had earned while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan—items that were truly irreplaceable.
Museum Loses Everything
Unfortunately, even if you’re not relying on a self storage unit, you can still experience devastation in the blink of an eye. After heavy rains caused a flood in Mankato, Minnesota, The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota sadly announced in 2014
that they would have to throw out most of their collection.
Beautiful pieces of artwork and historical artifacts alike were destroyed—and even though the museum had insurance, it did not cover flood or water damage.
Had the artwork been stored in plastic containers in a secure facility, the tragedy could have been avoided completely.
Wake Up—Storage Nightmares Don’t Have to Happen
Because of poor maintenance
, lack of security and safety, negligence, and constant break-ins, self storage is not a viable option for businesses. Ensure that your data, records, and “extra stuff” are properly stored, managed, and organized with professional records storage services
that offer top-level security to avoid these nightmares from happening to you and your business in the future. Here’s to avoiding self storage nightmares.