How to Protect Your Self-Storage Unit

Written by: Editorial Team - Published: Jun 21, 2024


From the outside, storage facilities look to be secure environments. Rolling gates, key codes, and padlocks are all used in an effort to provide maximum protection. Unfortunately, despite video surveillance and adequate security measures, storage facilities still fall prey to burglaries and property theft. These crimes are not just committed by someone casing the place from the outside; in fact, this type of theft is often carried out by fellow tenants who already have access to the premises. If you’re looking to rent a storage unit, you need to know what kind of security methods are the most important to prioritize. This guide will walk you through how to choose a secure self-storage provider and give you tips on how to improve the security of your unit.


What To Look For in a Self-Storage Provider


If you don’t feel safe driving through the area surrounding a storage facility, that is a big red flag. Depending on why you’re renting a unit, you may be frequently going to and from the storage location. Even if you’re not checking in often, it’s good to know whether the area is safe and less likely to be targeted. That being said, you should steer clear of high-crime areas. Even if prices are cheaper, it’s not worth the gamble. 


Security cameras only work in a well-lit environment. How is the lighting at your storage facility? Natural light during the day may keep burglars at bay, but a dark storage lot at night provides the perfect cover for crime. Although there may not be much you can do about improving the lighting at your current location (aside from requesting more adequate equipment), if you’re searching for a facility to rent from, keep good lighting in mind.


A fully fenced lot provides an extra layer of security for tenants and more of a hassle for anyone looking to attempt a break-in. Ideally, the premises should be surrounded by wrought iron fencing with a keycode sliding vehicle gate that tenants use to enter and exit the lot. Chain-link fencing, even with a barbed wire top, isn’t going to be as efficient. Bolt cutters are usually the tool of choice for individuals trying to break into storage units, and they can cut a hole right through a chain-link fence. 


Storage facilities are now able to outfit their units with individual door alarms. These alarms are specifically designed to prevent unit break-ins and are a more secure self-storage option. When someone attempts to break into a unit with a door alarm, the alarm sounds, and site managers are instantly alerted to where the breach in security is happening. They can then alert the authorities to respond to the potential burglary. Keep in mind that facilities providing this type of security measure are more expensive than those without.

Access control

Key codes, security cards, and remote controls are other tools used to maintain control of who has access to the facility and when. There is even new Bluetooth technology that allows tenants to unlock gates and doors with their smartphones. Individuals who currently rent units will be given access through tools like these and should never share the information with anyone else. These access controls establish limited entry and exit points, which allows storage facilities to keep track of who is coming and going and how often.

Video surveillance

Security cameras are an easy way for storage companies to keep an eye on the daily activity of their facility. Although the presence of video surveillance can help deter people from committing theft, managers aren’t watching security screens all day. Most of the time, security camera footage is only viewed after a crime has been committed and reported. It’s a tool used for record-keeping practice to help identify suspects in the event of a crime. 

Security guards

Some storage companies choose to hire a team of security guards to up their safety efforts. Although this is a very effective solution, it can be expensive to pay for this service. Alternatively, security companies are now offering virtual security guard services, which claim to cut costs by up to 60%. Virtual security uses a combination of artificial and human intelligence to monitor sites remotely 24/7. Storage facilities using security guards of any kind will be a more expensive option, but it may be worth the cost.

What You Can Do To Improve Security

Upgrade your lock

Even if you choose a highly secure self-storage facility with all the best technology, there are actions you can take to improve the security of your unit. One thing you can do is upgrade your lock. Those sold on-site are usually good enough for the job, but you can take it a step further. Be sure to avoid locks with a large shackle (the U-shaped loop on top), as they are the most vulnerable to bolt cutters. Locks with small or shrouded shackles are the best option and can be priced anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the quality. 

Put the most valuable items in the back of your unit

Anyone attempting to burglarize a storage facility won’t be spending too much time on any one unit. One way to prevent your most valuable belongings from being stolen in the event of a break-in is to pack them away in the very back of the unit. Of course, no one wants any of their things to be stolen, but damage can be mitigated by concealing and protecting priceless or high-value items. Some people choose to keep a large, heavy safe in their unit for anything that needs extra protection.

Opt for indoor storage

Similar to high-quality fencing, indoor storage provides another layer of protection. Most storage facilities are only accessible through a front gate with a keycode, whereas indoor storage buildings are often protected by an additional keycode or security card access point. Even if an unauthorized person were to get through the front gate of the lot, they would have to then get into one of the locked buildings, making it all the more difficult to infiltrate.

Don’t give anyone your access code or key

Only current tenants should have access point information. They are responsible for keeping keys, keycodes, and security cards safe. Lending out or losing a physical access code or one of the keys could result in the theft of your items or another tenant’s items. If found or stolen, keys can be duplicated and cards can easily be used by anyone. Keep your access information confidential to protect your storage facility. 

Purchase insurance

Tenants signing up for a new lease will often be required to purchase or show proof of storage insurance. Storage companies usually provide this service, but some people may want or require more coverage than what they offer. Be sure to read any potential insurance policies to make sure you know what is and isn’t covered. Policies usually range in price from around $10 to $40 per month, providing coverage up to around $10,000.