Victims of theft from self-storage units in Provo City often feel helpless when they are stripped of the items, which they paid to have protected.
When an individual puts their personal property in a self-storage unit they are hoping it will be safe from theft and harm. Many customers feel they have little or no control over the security of their belongings after the basic fee has been paid, usually because of distance from their belongings.
Patrick Francom, a senior studying public relations, said he personally can’t stand the feeling left from people taking things from him.
“Theft is my petpeeve,” Francom said. “It drives me nuts when people steal stuff from you – even when it’s just a joke.”
For out- of-state students who leave in the summer months – such as Lauren Rawe, a junior from California – renting a self-storage unit for the summer months is common.
Rawe said she has needed self-storage units for both summers she’s been at BYU.
“I didn’t have a car my freshman year so I just took everything that I could in suitcases home for the summer and put the rest in storage,” Rawe said. “Last year I drove home with my brother so all of our stuff wouldn’t both fit in my car.”
According to a recent news release from the Provo Police Department, Sergeant Mathew Siufanua, public information officer, said theft to some extent can be avoided.
“Using good crime prevention steps can reduce your fear of crime and help prevent you from becoming an easy target,” he said.
One way to prevent theft, according to Siufanua, is to look for signs of a security-focused storage unit.
Sergeant Siufanua said potential customers can assess the level of security by asking storage unit companies about items like these:
1. Do you require photo identification/driver’s license or state ID cards from customers?
2. The property should rent to 100 percent law abiding paying customers. Criminals don’t like to provide their valid information, especially when they want to use their storage unit as the first access point for a burglary.
3. Do you secure empty units? Empty units are a great place for a burglary to start. Storage shed burglars will make entry into empty units, then tunnel their way to neighboring units.
In addition to the responsibilities of the storage managers, Sergeant Siufanua said patrons have important responsibilities as well.
“Fill out an inventory form for all of your items,” he said. “This will assist police officers in locating your property quicker … [Second] make sure the business has at least three emergency contact numbers for you. There is nothing more aggravating than trying to find a victim in a case.”
Rawe said she has only made a mental inventory, explaining she doesn’t have that much stuff and would notice if something were missing.
With an increased understanding of what to look for and what to be doing to ensure the greatest level of security with self-storage units Rawe said she will be more careful in the future.
Rawe’s more active understanding and cautiousness about avoiding theft is exactly what Siufanua said is necessary to prevent future theft.
“Fighting crime is not a police problem; it is a community problem that requires community solutions,” he said. “Each of us needs to be proactive in protecting ourselves from crime. The Provo Police Department relies on our partners, the public, to assist us on working on those quality of life issues that degrade our community.”