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STOP! THIEF!

brownroosterbrownrooster TXRegistered User ✭✭
It has been since last July since I had to make THAT call or see THAT look in my tenant's eyes.  Honestly, I hate it.  It is not the surly customers, the pulling weeds in the rain, sweeping in sweltering heat, or even watching 8 units succumb to this months 80+ mile an hour winds. It is the thieves and what they do to peoples lives and memories and at times makes me want to quit.

It happened this weekend.  2nd event of this young year.  Both times to tenants I have gotten to know and cared about. This sucks.  

So enough therapy.  Here's the situation.  We have our buildings as our primary perimeter, generally a minimum of 12 ft high.  There are gaps (1 per side) in between our buildings. In each gap there is a chainlink fence overlayed and over-bolted with sheet metal siding.  There is no evidence, this time, that anyone came over the fences, though it is possible. Our Front is an automatic gate with a key code entry and weight-plate exit. The weakest link in all of this is a 2 1/2 foot high gap under one section of the gate where the rain channel runs underneath it to carry water to the roadway.  

Our gate locks at 10pm.  No one gets in.  You have to approximate the weight of a car to activate the gate to get out.

I have seen video of a few bags being tossed over a fence thanks to a neighbors camera.  But much of the stuff was big, bulky, and cumbersome.  things like an over-sized chair, a crate full of antique firearms, a rolling tool cart full of tools, etc.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how this stuff left my lot, without the gate camera seeing anything?  (No unusual gate code activity, either). Have y'all ever experience anything like this.  I know from past experience that may lot cameras (the ones that ironically have not been stolen) will be worthless at any sort of positive ID of people or vehicles. And are Officers basically useless to you in these situations? Here, at best, they are apathetic generally condescending, and in the event early this year, they actually told my tenant that it was his opinion that I had something to do with it. and that if it were him, he would leave this place as fast as possible and never look back.

So Again my questions:

1) how do you think the perps are getting in, and more importantly OUT of my facility with a raft of large items.
2) have you ever been able to successfully curtail criminal activity at your facility.
3) do you have any suggestions for this newb?  (Dont say more or better cameras, I have sung that song to death.  Its a non-started with those at corporate.
4) Is this just a part of it and I better get used to it?
5) From a customer stand point.  We have a protection plan that acts similar to insurance.  But we make the tenant provide receipts on anything we replace.  Is that standard?  How to you handle family heirlooms or things that have been owned for more than 5-10 year and the receipt has been lost?
6) Any suggestions that have worked in your facility are appreciated. I jsut need help keeping my tenants stuff, their stuff!

Comments

  • OrkoceanOrkocean CARegistered User, Daily Operations Certified, Advanced Operations Certified, Administrator Certified, myHub Certified ✭✭✭✭✭
    Just a quick thought on how large items are going missing yet not seen being taken out. Could the thieves themselves have a unit on property they are moving stuff to?
  • Christa_GrayChrista_Gray CanadaRegistered User, Daily Operations Certified, Advanced Operations Certified, Administrator Certified, myHub Certified ✭✭✭
    I agree with Orkocean. It sounds like you have a thief renting one of your units. We had something similar here, we couldn't prove it (as our lot only has cameras pointed at the gates), but after a couple of "shady" tenants vacated the property, bad things stopped happening. We still were not able to narrow it down to who exactly did it, but we had two vacate around the same time and low and behold, units and vehicles stopped being broken into. 

    Your tenants will usually know where cameras are, how your site works, etc. So I'd be mindful of new/newer tenants if this just started happening, and if it's been going on for a bit watch any tenants that were in and out that day that seemed to be there "longer" then usual. I would flag them anyways and just keep an eye on their actives. 
  • AnitaJohnson1269AnitaJohnson1269 NCRegistered User ✭✭✭
    I'm guessing it is hard to track how long a tenant is on site, as you stated it is a weighted "free" exit.  We have a keypad entry AND exit...  we know who comes and how long they stayed, unless they follow someone out, which is not often.  
  • brownroosterbrownrooster TXRegistered User ✭✭
    Anita, that is correct. Though our "simple" gate camera should be able to track when they leave.  I know most of my tenants by car.  We had no late entries on the night when the break in happened. So if it was a tenant they would have had to be here about 12 hours.
  • brownroosterbrownrooster TXRegistered User ✭✭
    @Orkocean, that is my leading thought.  Or that they are gaining entrance over or under our fence moving the stuff to a vacant unit then coming in during the day and moving stuff out without arousing suspicion.  To that end, I purchased about 5 dozen locks and began securing vacant units, as far as the locks went.  I did not secure my "broken" units because I assumed if I could get the door open without excessive efforts the perps couldn't either so those units were self-locking of sorts.

    while we are on the subject, I have approx 50 tenants with substandard locks on their units.  These are people who assured me at move in that they had disc locks.  Do you have this issue?  How do you handle it without chasing away active tenants?
  • brownroosterbrownrooster TXRegistered User ✭✭
    Thank you @Christa_Gray keep the ideas coming.  I am trying to learn. 
  • skinmanskinman KSRegistered User, Daily Operations Certified, Advanced Operations Certified, Administrator Certified, myHub Certified ✭✭✭✭✭
    Good idea not leaving vacant uits open... we secure every unit to include vacants with a disc lock. Color coded. We actually charge an administrative fee and "give" new customers a disc lock as well... something to consider. Do you require insurance? We do , but they can use their own Homeowners or renters rather than purchase ours if their policy covers stored goods, but units must have coverage.. 

    definitely not a fan of a weighted exit only.. Code in and out is the best.
  • Matt_RogersMatt_Rogers ORRegistered User, Daily Operations Certified, Advanced Operations Certified ✭✭
    We also had a situation where a thief preyed upon an adjoining unit. This seems to be the most likely outcome in your case. We were lucky and caught the guy in the act and the asst. manager quickly notified the Police and was apprehended. The renter had Storesmart Insurance provided by the facility and was covered for her loss.
  • JamesStorageJamesStorage MORegistered User ✭✭✭
    edited March 27
    I would address the issue with the police officer as well. If he's not taking his job seriously and badmouthing your company, that's something that definitely needs to be addressed with the precinct.

    Usually when someone is getting in "undetected" they either figure out someone else's gate code, or just follow them. Look for multiple instances of the same vehicle, or for vehicles that code in JUST before close.

    We don't require receipts. We ask for the used cash value, Since Customer's generally do not store brand new items. And regardless, you (the company) pay for value, not sentimental value.

    Our gate is also code in/out only, no weighted exit. It also locks completely after 10pm, so no one can code out afterwards
  • i43storagei43storage WIRegistered User, Daily Operations Certified, Advanced Operations Certified, Administrator Certified, myHub Certified ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, like @Orkocean, my first thought is that someone has rented a unit and simply using their vehicle to move things out.  Maybe they are keeping their car in their unit overnight - getting the goods in the dark of night- and then driving out the next day?  Just a thought.

    I'm curious to know how they are entering the units to steal things in the first place?  Are they using a bolt-cutter?  grinder?  picking the lock?  Seems like that would be on video. 

    As far as insurance, our lease states that renters must provide their own insurance as our insurance will not cover their personal property.  However, we have on occasion, given a free month's rent for various problems. 

    Also - having the police suggest that your place is not a legitimately run business is unbelievable.  I always want to stay friends with the men in blue; however, I'd be tempted to contact the officer or his superior and say what's up?

    Jean Marie
    I-43 Storage
  • CVSSSTORAGECVSSSTORAGE CARegistered User, Daily Operations Certified ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 28
    we had some people remove bolts from the backs of units and peel back the siding, they cut small holes in like 10 units and came and go as they pleased for a weekend. No one noticed because they were big commercial units and they would block it with a piece of wood or something in the units. They went through everyones stuff just tossing it aside like it was nothing one night. We do our lock checks every morning and did not see anything because they were going in and out the back of one unit =(
  • MrFugateMrFugate TXRegistered User ✭✭✭
     Or that they are gaining entrance over or under our fence moving the stuff to a vacant unit then coming in during the day and moving stuff out without arousing suspicion.  To that end, I purchased about 5 dozen locks and began securing vacant units, as far as the locks went. 

    while we are on the subject, I have approx 50 tenants with substandard locks on their units.  These are people who assured me at move in that they had disc locks.  Do you have this issue?  How do you handle it without chasing away active tenants

    We have Always locked vacant & Damaged units , Why lock the damaged units you ask.. IF someone can get the door up enough to get under it & In to the unit they can hide out there & cut their way into other units at night remove small items then Phone a friend to come pick them up the next day.( I've seen that happen).

    https://www.chateauproducts.com  ( No I do not work for them ) sells colored locks, even thought they are plastic they are use full. We use Green for ready to rent, Yellow for needs cleaning & Black for Damaged they are about 2.00 each. When customers see that ALL of the units on the property are locked that feel a bit better, it also helps you out be knowing what each lock is for .


    As far as the substandard locks go ,I keep a hasp on the counter with a disc lock & A pad lock in it. When people move in or then the "Weak lock" people came into pay I brink it up that the pad lock can be cut in under 1min & the disk lock "Takes 3 men ,4 boys, a baby & an act of congress to cut through with the same bolt cutters"  It makes people thing a bit ..

  • MrFugateMrFugate TXRegistered User ✭✭✭
     Officers basically useless to you in these situations? Here, at best, they are apathetic generally condescending, and in the event early this year, they actually told my tenant that it was his opinion that I had something to do with it. and that if it were him, he would leave this place as fast as possible and never look back.

    Contact his Sargent asap & let him know that you have some concerns about the way his officer handled the call & would like to have a set down with him about, It might get you a bit better coverage in the area after hours & it gives you the opportunity to take the Sargent to lunch & to let him know that offers a Police & Military discount,(Hopefully you guy do that as well ) We also give our officers 24 hour access. this comes in handy if they work the late shift and need someplace to have a cup of corner store coffee & work on reports between calls. I have 1 officer at my property that sets in my driveway at different times every week & the customers know he dose this so they are very happy for the added safety.
  • jhopkins6977jhopkins6977 AZRegistered User

    Although I am new to storage, don't rule out the tenant as the thief. They could get stuff in and out in view of the cameras and no one would ever know. Just a thought.
  • Clyde_Lord_JrClyde_Lord_Jr GARegistered User, Daily Operations Certified, Advanced Operations Certified ✭✭
    Where are the units located that were broken into? Start there and work your way out. Check the areas above the units to see if anything has been tampered with or jacked up. More cameras may not be the answer anyway. I don't know how often you all do lock checks, but more lock checks during the day may be a deterrent as well. Stagger them throughout the day even though you may not have a lot of activity. One more check before going home may give tenants a chance to see you and you see them. Check your gate activity and then go look around those units every day. Give those customers that do not have disc locks an incentive to switch locks. Or don't rent to anyone that does not have a disc lock in hand ready to put it on after finishing your lease. It's for their peace of mind and the safety of your property.  
  • themagethemage ORRegistered User, Daily Operations Certified, Advanced Operations Certified, Administrator Certified, myHub Certified ✭✭✭
    We have had one tenant robbing other units and moving the stuff to their own unit. We have also had someone use their exes gate code and keys after a breakup. Cameras are useful after the fact, but not a great preventative. With a one way gate keypad, access security like individual door alarms is harder but doable.

    Definitely keep an eye on the locks. One of ours was scouting easy locks, cutting them or the latch, and putting their own lock on or situating the original lock so it looked like it hadn't been tampered with. 

    Sometimes the so called "weight sensor" for these gates is actually a metal detector loop and can be activated with a moderately sized piece of metal (bicycle or tool box, etc.) 

    As for police, around here they will gladly take a report and give a case number, but unless they actually catch someone in the act or have positive id, there is little they can do. Sometimes we can get them to increase patrols for a few days.

    We have perimeter and area sensors that will sound the alarm if anyone is moving around property after the gate locks. Very effective if someone is nearby to respond, but there are some false alarms.
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