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Self-Storage Market Grows, Security Poses a Big Concern

People don’t like to throw things away. Gifts and family heirlooms are precious items valued for much more than their price tag. Other items are just useful. A futon might not be needed today, but keeping the one you own will be cheaper and easier than buying one for your child when he or she goes off to college.

Despite the sentimental, practical or monetary value an item might hold, there are times when there just isn’t a place for it at home. It takes up space in the closet, the front porch or in the spare bedroom. It gets in people’s way and makes your home look cluttered and unkempt.

A Growing Market
It’s dilemmas like these that contribute to the growing self-storage industry. According to IBISWorld, an industry research firm, the storage market in the U.S. was expected to reach $28 billion in revenue last year. This represents a 3 percent annual increase since 2010.

IBISWorld doesn’t expect the market to slow down anytime soon, predicting it to reach $30.5 billion in 2018 and $32.6 billion two years later.

The Wall Street Journal reported that most storage businesses have seen high occupancy levels and overall, the industry is growing, even if space isn’t. Slowing rates of new construction have held back competition, allowing for current businesses to remain relevant and successful.

“It’s a good industry to be in,” Charles Byerly, chief executive of Irvine, California-based Westport Properties Inc., said. Byerly manages more than 80 facilities in 13 states.

The Reason Behind the Rental
Bloomberg noted that the number of units available doubled in the 14 years between 1998 and 2012. There are enough units throughout the U.S. for every single resident to have one. ABC reported about 11 million Americans utilize these units.

People rent out storage units when their life suddenly changes.
Changing circumstances often motivate people to rent out a storage unit.

In the self-storage industry, people say that “the four Ds” drive the need for extra space: death, divorce, dislocation and downsizing, according to The Journal. Bloomberg had a slightly different version, swapping out downsizing for disaster.

In either case, changing circumstances, coupled with a desire to hang onto our things but not take bring them with us right away, make for a lucrative storage industry.

“[My things] would have just taken up unnecessary space in our house,” said college sophomore Juli Ann Polise to The Journal about the contents of her college dorm room, which she housed in a storage unit while on break. “We are definitely doing it again next summer.”

Once people see the benefits of using the space, they are unlikely to go back. They don’t want to relocate their things to a cheaper unit, and they are very likely to rent the unit out for far longer than they had originally anticipated.

Security Concerns
As in any case when precious items are left, for the most part, unattended, there are some risks involved in renting out a storage space. Storage unit theft isn’t uncommon and many times, thieves find looting unwatched lots far too easy.

ABC reported on two thieves working midday in Missouri to break locks, sort through other people’s items and haul it away. The entire episode was recorded on a security camera, though the criminals were confident they had time to gather and discard what they wanted or didn’t.

This particular case resulted in the loss of $10,000 worth of items, though the owner’s insurance only covered $1,000 of it.

This kind of thing happens all over the country. One Chicago resident, Jason Tomaric, began to warn fellow renters at the storage unit where he kept his bicycle, hard drives and other possessions, of a burglar who helped him or herself to Tomaric’s belongings, ABC7 Chicago reported. He believes he isn’t the only victim.

“When I peeked over the top, it looked like somebody had walked along the roof and pressed down all the chicken wire, and there were several spots where I noticed the wire was also cut and peeled up,” he told ABC7.

It’s not just faceless strangers that take advantage of these largely unguarded and under-secured units, though. The Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper, reported that a Baton Rouge handyman named Ryan Lance Redinger stole $25,000 worth of tools and other goods from his employer’s unit.

Redinger had the unit’s security code and used it to enter the space 13 separate times while still employed. He then pawned the items he took at local shops.

ABC News consultant and former FBI agent Brad Garrett explained that many storage unit thefts are not reported – possibly because they go unnoticed for some time.

“Many storage unit thefts aren’t reported – possibly because they go unnoticed.”

“The locking systems are extremely poor and the ability for people to go into them twenty-four hours a day sort of make them ripe for people to steal items if they have a pass to get in,” Garrett clarified.

What is possibly worse than learning that valued possessions have been lifted is the fact that it often takes so long for the renter or owner of the company to take note of the missing items. Upon further investigation, Tomaric found that the owner of the units had known of the burglaries for months before the renter found out, and Redinger was able to enter the unit 13 separate times before a complaint was filed.

Garrett urges people who are considering to rent out some storage space to first do their own research before committing to a place. If they wind up going with a facility with poor security, chances are, they won’t notice until it’s too late.

“In other words, what type of camera systems do they have?” He advised potential renters to ask: “What are the locking systems? Can you control the type of locking system? Who has access? Do they have cameras 24 hours a day? All of those questions need to be answered to your satisfaction before you store anything there. Deciding whether you want to place your goods at a temporary storage facility is really driven by you doing your own homework.”

A More Secure Solution
There are alternatives to the traditional storage unit. Mobile Mini secure storage containers offer many benefits over a storage unit facility that is positioned in an obscure or out-of-the-way location and is, for the most part, out of sight and out of mind. Portable storage solutions allow renters to keep their possessions on their own property, rather than towing them across town.

This not only makes filling the unit with items easier, but also makes valued property more accessible and easy to keep an eye on. While thieves target storage unit facilities elsewhere, your Mobile Mini will be safely located in your back or side yard.

If you are a business, you can keep the unit in the far corner of your parking lot or behind your building, out of the way of customers and employees. Meanwhile, it’ll be close enough that you won’t have to entrust various employees with the credentials to enter the unit.

Plus, with Mobile Mini’s patented Tri-Cam Locking system, you know your assets will be much more secure than they would be behind an easily severed padlock.