Thieves; Do you want to catch them or prevent them? Working with the law; the four steps to conviction
There had been a recent School Shooting and my brother happened to be visiting. We talked about it for a while and I was giving him my thoughts since I had been on the School Board, on how to catch them. Out of the blue, he said; “ Do you want to Catch them or Prevent them?”. He is ex- K9 police and also wrote the Army and Air Force Nuclear/Biological/Chemical warfare manual for the North American bases. I came up with a new approach for the schools, but that is another story.
Thieves Storage Security Methods
Since then, I have decided to Prevent thefts. Below is a list of all of the storage security methods we use at Clark Storage LLC.
- Signage- tell them you have cameras, alarms, gate hours, only tenants, or your trespassing. Be the “Hard” target.
- Youtube- communicate out your security systems. Be the “Hard” target.
- Payment method- only do Autopay credit card or bank account. This filters most thieves out. Most of my issues from theft and lockouts are cash/check. You have to offset this against the lost business. We run 66% Autopay at our locations where we allow Cash/Checks. Of the 34% some have credit cards and bank accounts, just choose not to; thus you might not loose all 34%.
- Free Lock- give them a free round security lock. We buy them for around $4. Tell them they can use their own lock (so they don’t hold you accountable for break-ins on your lock), no small padlocks. If I have a break-in, it is always the cheap padlock units that get cut. Seeing a row of Silver round security locks is beautiful. It also tells a potential Robber to move on.
- Fence- Chainlink or decorative doesn’t really matter. They are easy to cut through or jump over. Started putting Razor wire tied to the fence at the ground level, at the back of the property, away from the customers. This way the thieves have to jump on, or step through it at night.
- Building cameras- started with 1 meg, now at 4 meg. More pixels, better pictures. The prices have gone down. Do an inventory of your system. They should be replaced every 4 to 5 years, due to advancements in technology.
- Gate Cameras- These are to pick up the Vehicles license plate. In a metro area of 1mm, even if you have a picture of them breaking in, you still have to find them. Smalltown USA, Law enforcement recognize most of the bad people.
- Learned there are special “License Plate” cameras. It’s not about how many Pixels, although you want at least 4 meg; it is developed to cut through the glare of Headlamps and tail lights. Working with our keypad and gate system, you want the camera focus narrowed to a certain location and size, to get the best picture of the license plates. We use just two and not four cameras. You will catch the rear shot as they leave.
- Facial camera. We don’t use security codes or Fobs. We have the person push the button, so we can get a good narrowly focused Facial shot and also a good License plate view. Not using Security codes and Fobs, we are offsetting Security versus managing offsite over the phone. We don’t want calls of lost security numbers or Fobs. And we have a sign over the push button, letting them know they are being filmed and we have Audio.
- Passenger side camera and an Overall Vehicle camera- These are normal cameras.
- Gate- set the gate open/close speed to control single car access. You want them to hit the button, so you get a Facial image.
- NVR system- Get an NVR system that works with the cameras for Infrared, Motion sensors, Audio. Size the NVR memory for at least 2 weeks storage, do 10 shots per second at your control points (gate, office, etc), 4 shots per second in the general facility. This determines each camera’s memory usage.
- Office Whammer- put a system in your office that not only sends you a signal, when it is broken into, but that scares the hell out of them and “Forces” them out of the unit. Protect your NVR. Don’t google for “whammer”, I made that up.
- Plastic zip ties- place on all empty units, so you can tell if someone broke into. This gives you a heads up to see if anyone dumped anything, while you still have NVR memory and not a month later.
- Gate Hours- 8 am to 9 pm. Obviously you have a Security versus Service decision. Our customers are not Commercial, thus no need for earlier or later hours. Customers who ask for later hours, I will manually accommodate them for move-in, but tell them, ongoing, nothing good happens late at night.
- Road sensors- use this at a site we leave open 24 hours. Set from 1000 pm to 7 am to send me a text message. We communicate with the customers to not go in during that time frame. This is for both Security and we have a neighborhood across the street and we didn’t want late-night traffic impacting them since their houses face our units.
- Lighting- LED, broad-spectrum, enough to support camera pictures. We leave on all night, might need to check out the motion sensor.
- Building Row orientation- If the site allows, we orient our buildings at a 90-degree angle to the road so neighbors and law enforcement can see down the aisles.
Catching Thieves with our Storage Security Methods:
- Overall shot of the break in- the camera shot has to show them going into the unit. We had a camera that looked “along” the building, but not “at” the building. City Attorney would not prosecute, because it didn’t show them entering the unit. You could see them breaking in, but not going in.
- License plate shot– Unless you’re in a small town, this is needed for Law Enforcement to find them.
- Are they a customer– Then it’s not breaking in. In Iowa, it actually is and it’s on my contract. Once I lock them out, it’s trespassing. Neither I, nor they can go in.
- Facial Shot– “It was my car, but not me.” Plus again, most thieves don’t want their picture taken. Prevent them, don’t catch them.
- Knowing what time frame to look- Who wants to look through 64 cameras for 24 hours in a day. Our latest system has a timeline you can look at. Every time there is a red blip, that is the motion sensor recording. Before I had to see if I could see the lock on/off, the Door pull cord in/out, or dirt or cobwebs missing. These are hard to notice, let alone look through hours of film.
- What is a break in- We use zip ties to let us know if someone went into a unit. If someone breaks in to get a free lock, this is not breaking and entering per our local law enforcement.
- Fingerprints- they don’t exist. Law enforcement will never come to take them.
- Keeping “Evidence”- ask the police, but we have never had to keep evidence inside of a unit.
- Who reports the crime?- You can report breaking and entering, but the tenant has to report the theft since you don’t own anything in the unit.
- Catching them a second time- if you notice a break in and they put another lock on (to come back later), call the police, but change the lock, catch them breaking in a second time.
- Going to court- a waste of your time, but you have to do it.
- “I’m really a good person”, “My parents didn’t raise me this way”, “I’ll do anything”- these folks have probably done 20 break-ins before this one. Just because your or someone else did not prosecute or have a security system in place, they later broke into my units.
- What can “you” claim to the court for recovery?- Lock, memory stick, lost time trip 1/2/3/4, latch repair, clean out if needed, Court time, etc. You can only claim hard costs. Your time can’t be claimed.
- Trespass/Live ins, “Its Cold Outside”- I just didn’t send in the contract. Be careful, re-securing your units, make sure no one is living in it.
- Why I don’t like 5 x 10’s- We only have 6; 5 x 10’s but they are the most common trespass units. We locked them up and don’t use them anymore. Plus high turnover and payment issues.
Tattoos are good
The guy had gloves, a full face/neck mask, goggles, rode a bicycle, and had a backpack. You could tell he was smart. He was stealing our “low” mounted cameras (we got a text to check). He stopped under one of our lights to put the cameras in his backpack. Looked on the ground to make sure he did not drop and leave anything. Then the road off at 5 am in the morning. The Police caught him 2 days later. (Prosecuted)
Dumb and Dumber
Our camera was angled North towards the unit the thieves wanted to break into. They used some stick or broom, to push the camera away and pointed South along the wall. They then proceeded to break into a South unit and move that stuff to the North unit. The guy had just gotten out of jail 2 weeks ago. (Prosecuted)
Can never figure out why people think a Storage location, is a good place to dump the trash. Luckily they were in their brand new truck in the middle of the day and we got their license plate, or they left their bills in the furniture they dropped off. Go figure. (Prosecuted)
Only telling you part of the story, this one was weird and long. I give all of my customers around security lock. These two ladies pull up and get out with a bolt cutter and spend the next 45 minutes to cut off the lock. Full in my camera shot and the neighbors watching. After I filed charges, the one called me up. “My parents didn’t raise me this way.” “I’ll do anything.” When we went to court for their trial and sentencing, we had to wait out in the hallway. I was around the corner, not wanting to sit with them. Talking with their lawyer, they said it was only a lock, is the guy trying to teach us a lesson? One pleads guilty. One pleads innocent, even though they were on film for 45 minutes. (Both Prosecuted)
Like I said before. Don’t trust anything I said. Take ownership, it’s your facility. And yes, nothing is perfect. There are more of them, than us; and their Risk vs Reward decision process is different than ours. More importantly I can tell you, Thieves are smarter than a Phi Beta Kappa. So when you do catch them, prosecute them. Because they have probably done this 10 or 20 times before.
Clark Storage – Best and Most Secured Storage Units in the Area
Our family business objective is to provide you the best service and facilities in a secured location. As you get to know our facilities, you will note they were selected for your ease of access, location, and security. Please let us know how we can continue to improve your storage needs and fulfill your high expectations. We have units in Council Bluffs, Glenwood, Shenandoah, & Pacific Junction. Contact us today. We are also offering a Move-In Referral Program, click here for more information.