A recent update from the Self-Storage Association indicates that organised crime groups are targeting self-storage facilities, particularly those without adequate security, leaving valuables exposed to theft.
This guide includes advice for all self-storage companies, highlighting the key threats you should safeguard against and the best security features available to protect your customers, staff, property, business and assets.
Security Risks for Self-Storage Premises
Self-storage is an affordable and convenient way to store personal items, business inventory and bulkier appliances for longer periods, with demand increasing by 65% in the last 15 years.
The challenge for storage unit providers is that they are responsible for protecting the assets their customers choose to store within their locker or unit, with varying risks and compliance requirements.
Commercial renters tend to retain self-storage units for up to 24 months, which means that sufficient security is vital to protect those assets, given that valuables could be kept on-site for prolonged periods.
Business Liability for Self-Storage Units
Although you, as a self-storage business, are not usually liable for losses, any negligence or failure to provide security to meet the basic requirements of the service could lead to a valid, expensive claim.
Self-storage providers must deliver a reasonable level of protection because:
- Self-storage units frequently targeted by theft will quickly become unviable businesses as customers look for more secure competitors or options.
- Some customers may rely on home insurance policies, mistakenly assuming that their possessions are covered, resulting in disputes and legal challenges.
- Reputational damage is extremely hard to recover from, and most new customers will prioritise levels of security when choosing a self-storage company or facility.
How to Secure Your Storage Units
Our advice for anybody working within the self-storage sector is to take a proactive approach to reviewing your security systems and ensure that your facility is visibly and effectively guarded.
There are multiple deterrents available, and if you haven’t evaluated your risk assessments recently, or are reliant on provisions that have been in place for some time, updating your security could be business-critical.
Essential Features for Self-Storage Security
Some of the tasks we’d suggest are pre-emptive and ensure that you aren’t exposing yourself inadvertently to a higher risk level than necessary.
- Asking all new customers to sign a rental agreement or service contract confirming that they acknowledge they need to insure every item they store.
- Vetting the site to ensure extremely valuable items (such as antiques or heirlooms) are excluded or stored in specialist vaults or high-security units, and preventing customers from storing any items deemed to be hazardous or prohibited.
- Retaining detailed logs, assessing climate and pest control systems, and updating fire safety protection.
- Screening employees or contracting out security operations to a reputable security provider.
The next step is to carefully evaluate the efficacy of your security and move quickly to reinforce your defences, improving customer confidence and mitigating any weaknesses in your surveillance or perimeters that may attract criminal behaviour.
A full risk assessment is fundamental to security, especially in a high-risk environment such as a self-storage facility.
Clearway provides a detailed site survey conducted by skilled security professionals, assessing the presence, scope and assigned risk level of a vast number of variables, such as:
- Environmental factors that may impact physical security – think exposure to flooding or high winds that dictate the right CCTV cameras.
- Customer data protection procedures, record keeping and licensing protocols.
- Access control, from approving individual visitors to verifying vehicles on-site, permitting staff entry via key fobs or entry systems and monitoring who is on-site, where and for how long at any one time.
- Back-up equipment in case of emergencies, such as damage to lighting, cameras or keypads.
- Surveillance and boundary protection, including motion sensors, cameras, unit alarms, door locks, lighting and perimeter fencing.
Your risk assessment is part of a thorough analysis process and identifies the possibility of a risk, the probability, and what you can do to protect your site.
CCTV cameras on all entry or exit routes are the minimum required by the Self-Storage Association UK, although the quality and protection varies considerably between surveillance systems.
Clearway can recommend the most suitable CCTV for your premises, considering:
- Layout, blind spots and main access points.
- Hours of business and the need for night-vision/infra-red cameras.
- Key places/vulnerable areas where surveillance is essential, including indoor areas, car parks and spaces between your buildings and property boundaries.
- Functionality, from remote monitoring requirements to immediate alarm activations.
- Protection against a range of risks such as fire, flooding, gas and illegal entry.
Many self-storage providers opt for video motion detection systems, backed with multiple layers of technology to capture high-resolution footage, prompt security responses, or issue voice commands to prevent attempted intrusions. Clearway provide the extremely popular Video Verified Alarm a stand-alone, battery-powered, wire free, mobile network alarm system which will detect movement via multiple sensors, record and send a short video clip via the mobile network to a predetermined recipient or monitoring station.
Solar-powered outdoor CCTV towers are also popular and mean that even if there is an electrical power outage or wires are vandalised, your commercial-grade surveillance always remains on.
Although it sounds obvious, many storage facilities operate passive CCTV systems, only checking footage when an incident occurs.
Active CCTV is a far better solution, with 24/7 monitoring year-round.
This system allows trained security responders to deploy when a threat is detected, with evidence to demonstrate what is happening and what level of response is most appropriate.
Clearway provides continual remote monitoring through our NSI Gold Standard Alarm Response Centre, ensuring a professional security team is always on hand to monitor your site, and alert emergency services, attend an incident, or follow your own security protocols whenever an incident begins to unfold. This provides total peace of mind for business owners and staff.
Mobile Patrols and Manned Guarding
Finally, we strongly recommend the unrivalled human element of manned guarding, with entry points protected by physical checks and barriers to prevent unauthorised vehicles from entering.
Any customer who can access a self-storage facility without being noticed by security is highly unlikely to consider the business a safe place to store their valuable possessions.
Accredited security staff are proficient at identifying threats, de-escalating a range of scenarios, and showcasing professionalism to back up your business reputation.
Expert Advice on Self-Storage Security
At Clearway we find more often than not, that a combination of more traditional and technology-based security solutions works best in providing total protection for your business and its assets.
Please contact the Clearway team if you would like to learn more about the potential security risks present at your self-storage facility or to chat about the best approach to defend your premises from the rise in organised crime.
With over 20 years of security expertise, we’ll be happy to provide the benefit of our knowledge to ensure your self-storage business is protected from every threat and you can continue to provide a secure, safe storage facility for your customers. At Clearway we secure, monitor and protect.