Falling victim to a burglary is always devastating, but having your possessions stolen from a self-storage unit usually comes as a complete shock. “Good Morning America” recently reported that self-storage theft is on the rise and that consumers who rent storage units should be concerned about the safety of their items.

But is self-storage burglary actually a big problem and are customers facing a greater crime risk than they were five or 10 years ago?

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell. There isn’t much hard data on this issue, and self-storage break-ins often go unreported, said Jon Loftin, vice president of business development at PTI Security Systems, which specializes in self-storage security hardware and software. It’s important to note that self-storage issues are gaining popularity thanks to shows like “Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters,” so it’s possible that this form of theft is simply receiving more attention than it has in the past.

According to the 2012 Self-Storage Almanac, compiled by MiniCo Insurance Agency, 7 percent of facilities in the U.S. had reported break-ins or thefts in the previous year, down from 18.2 percent in 2010. Even with that decline, burglary remains a threat at self-storage facilities.

In the same way you may rely on alarm systems and neighborhood watch programs to protect your home from burglars, you should be proactive about preventing theft at your self-storage unit.

Choosing a Secure Self-Storage Facility
To safeguard your stored goods and avoid the cost of replacing stolen items, you always should be thorough when selecting a facility, said Andrew Schrage, co-owner of personal finance website Before booking a facility, review all of the listed security features, call the manager if you need any clarification and, if possible, visit the facility in person.

Not sure exactly what security measures are necessary? If you’re able to schedule a visit and take a tour, Schrage suggests making sure the indoor and outdoor areas of the property are well-lit. He also recommends asking the manager whether the facility has an established relationship with the local police department and inquiring about how frequently police monitor the area, if at all.

Video surveillance technology can deter would-be thieves who spot the security cameras. However, Loftin pointed out that the primary function of surveillance is to help managers review what went wrong after a burglary, rather than to stop one from occurring in the first place.

Criminal being arrested by policeman

If you’re serious about giving your items the highest level of security, Loftin recommends selecting a facility with an access control system and individual door alarms, which are the best tools for preventing burglaries.

An access control system requires renters to use individual codes, remotes or security cards to enter the facility. This technology not only gives self-storage managers a record of who’s using the facility at all times, but makes it harder for would-be burglars to enter.

Individual door alarms provide an additional layer of security by immediately alerting self-storage operators if an unauthorized user enters a certain unit. Loftin said that these alarms are particularly effective in protecting against a common type of self-storage theft—an existing customer clearing out another customer’s unit.

Taking Safety Into Your Own Hands
Even after you’ve chosen a secure storage facility, you still can take steps to make sure your belongings are safe.

If you have a few high-value items among your stored possessions, Loftin recommends placing those valuables in the back of your unit. Doing so can protect your most important belongings from what he refers to as a “crash and grab” theft. In this type of burglary, thieves break into several units and quickly seize whatever looks like it holds the most value. Because these burglaries often happen so quickly–usually in a matter of minutes–crooks will be less likely to snatch important items if you’ve made them more difficult to grab.

Many storage facilities also let you choose your own lock for your unit’s door. Take the time to choose a lock that will hold up against bolt cutters, Schrage said. You should avoid buying a lock with a long shackle, which is the loop that passes through or around the object you’re locking. Instead, Loftin recommends purchasing a disc lock or a cylinder lock, both of which are difficult to cut.

Anne Wynter
  • Mike Loshe

    Thanks for the share, these are all great tips. I think the best way to protect your belongings in storage is to use a company that has strong security measures already in place. I have personally always used
    since they have 24/7 surveillance as well as fire protection.

  • Jameel Johnson

    I had no idea that storage units were at that high a risk of burglary. Hopefully the Edmonton storage units aren’t at such risk. I suppose going cheap is not the best option when choosing a storage unit company.

  • Sarah Miller

    Self storage facilities were not all created equal. You need to choose the self storage facility that has security features such as alarms.

  • jeanblake80

    This is good to keep in mind while I look for storage in Victoria, BC. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Abed Nadier

    I have never heard of there being problems with any storage facilities in North Las Vegas but I have heard theft happening around South Las Vegas.

  • ruby


  • Jeffry

    The self storage providers should solve the problems that can be occurred in terms of security by taking proper actions. A secured storage service should be provided by implementing theft alarm, burglary etc. A computer controlled access and storage should be promoted. We have hired Security Self Serve Storage from Toronto for our office, where they provide service with excellent security features with a reasonable price.

  • CelineSand

    We are moving to a new place next month. Is it possible to get a self storage unit for a month or so? That would really help the transition go smoothly when we get everything moved, and our extra stuff can stay in the storage unit until we can find a place for them.
    Celine |

  • Sarah Miller

    Hi, securing your belongings is necessary. That is why when choosing self-storage, it is really essential to check their security systems. With this said, thanks to you article and insights from , individuals can be sure that their items are protected.

  • Sarah Miller

    Choosing a storage facility is indeed crucial as this will determine the safety and security of your things. However, this does not mean that you would rely solely on the service provider. Indeed, you also have to make an effort to keep your things safe at all times. More info at

  • Lance Tankmen

    I always like to look around and make sure the storage units look safe. High fences and clean units can generally tell you if it’s a good place to store your things. The last thing you would want is all of your valuables to be stolen!

  • Aaron Carter

    This is great advice. I have had some trouble with self storage. This will help me out for sure.

    Aaron Carter |

  • Anita Mas

    That makes sense to put your big valuable items in the back. It’s just more secure that way. It’s less likely that a thief would move everything out and get to it.

    Anita Mas |

  • Derrick Sly

    What would you say is the value cap for an item stored in one of these? I’ve heard of break-ins happening before, I just don’t know if they’re going to be all that likely. Is it safe to store valuables in these? I know there are guards that patrol them occasionally, is that right?

  • Kyle McDonald

    I agree that it is important to keep your things in a secure self storage unit. A lot of what you put in you unit is valuable. It would be terrible to have it stolen from you.

  • Emily Smith

    I am really glad I came across this article. I am getting ready to study abroad in a month. I am going to be keeping most of my stuff in a storage unit while I am out of the country. I don’t want my things to be stolen! I will have to be careful and use some of these tips. I hope nobody steals anything from my unit!
    Emily Smith |

  • Derrick Sly

    It seems simple, but a well-lit storage area makes a big difference. Everyone knows that criminals prefer to work in the dark. Providers with lots of lights make this a hard job for them. Cameras and such also help a lot.

  • Kiara Thorne

    After the move, we had no space to put our things. We moved into a smaller home two states away. The move was difficult but we made it through. We had to get a storage unit to put our things in.

  • Tripp Vanderbilt

    I have had a self storage unit for many years now. I’ve never had a problem with keeping my things safe. I’m glad I haven’t had to take precautionary measures to keep my things there.

  • Jason shwartz

    It definitely is scary when you have a burglary. It’s even worse when it’s from your storage facility. Something that I have found to be very nice are the security cameras and patrolling guards at my facility. Most facilities these days aren’t the easiest to get into, so I think that making sure they at least have a large fence is important.

  • Kyle McDonald

    I want to rent a self storage unit. I will have to make sure that it is secure all the time. It would be terrible if I had my things stolen from the unit. I’m sure that I can find secure self storage units in my area.

  • Kent Clark

    It’s important to make sure that your belongings are all safe. Criminals seem to be getting more and more clever every day. This is great advice. I’ll be sure to take it into consideration as I use self storage.

  • ronald bryan

    Anne, I like the pointers you gave for protecting your storage unit. I think that a good lock is the most important part of anti-theft. One of those locks with a long shaft is too easy to cut. I’ll stick with a disc lock myself.

  • Pavlos Lombardi

    I think it’s really important to make sure that you’ve got a good security system for your storage unit. You’d be surprised how often people try to break into those. I make sure that I’ve at least got an alarm system on the doors.

  • Nora Moore

    That’s smart to put your most valuable items in the back of your storage unit. You don’t want to make it too easy for things to be taken. Getting a good lock is worth the investment as well. You should take care of your stuff as much as possible.

  • Bobby Roosco

    I have been wanting to keep a lot of my extra stuff in storage. I want to make sure to take every precaution because I have a lot of valuable stuff. I think getting insurance is one of the best practices in storage. Thanks for the article.

  • Tom

    Alarm systems definitely have a place in a home security plan and are helpful, if used correctly. The reason why alarms systems deter burglaries is because they increase the potential and fear of being caught and arrested by the police.


  • Andrea Davis

    Self storage system is a good option only if it comes along with a strong storage system. There is a need for theft and burglary alarms in case of anybody trying to steal it away. Even fire alarms are must for it. In all, it needs a 24*7 check.

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  • Visitor_registration

    Self storage facility is an essential think that you have to look before selecting a resident for you and your family. Living in a self storage facility ensures your and yours family safety and secure you from potential threats like robbery and burglary. Always go for the self storage property that has security management systems like CCTV, guards and emergency alarm monitoring system in place.

  • JosephDavis

    I’ve been literally robbed by individuals in charge of my storage facility. Practically all of my most valued items have been stolen. I chose the facility for its advertised security. Now, my treasured family heirlooms are being sold by thieves.

    • Joe Derrick Hinds

      really? Did they sell your belongings because they were enforcing the lien after nonpayment?