The Most Important Security Tips for Your Storage Unit

Eric | March 7, 2022 @ 7:30 AM

Are you looking for a storage facility but nervous about storing your stuff away from home? The good news is that most facilities are highly secure and, in general, safer for your belongings than homes or offices.

While most facilities have good security, others go above and beyond. These may charge more, but you may find the higher price worth it for your peace of mind. Back in 2015, I wrote an article all about storage security, and while that contains helpful information, the industry continues to grow. So, this topic is worth revisiting in 2022.

Now, let’s cover what to look for.

Gated Access

Every facility should at the very least have coded, gated access. When you first rent a storage unit, you’ll get a code for the gate that you punch in each time you arrive. When you leave you’ll need to punch the code in at the other side of the gate as well. This allows the facility to keep track of who is there at any given time.

Perimeter Fence or Wall

Most facilities are surrounded by fences to prevent people from wandering onto the property. Fences work well, especially if they use barbed wire, but they can also be cut. Because of this, we recommend looking for facilities with stone walls. You may not be able to find one near you, and the fenced facilities are probably still secure, but walled facilities have that extra level of protection. These walls are generally made of concrete or granite and are eight feet tall, surrounding the facility aside from one or two gated entrances.


A secure facility should have good lighting everywhere, from the parking lots to the interior hallways. After dark, the outdoor lights will usually remain on while interior lights will have motion sensors, so when you enter a hallway, the lights turn on for you. There should also be a light in your unit on a timer. That way, you can turn the light on when you retrieve or drop off boxes, and even if you forget to turn it off, it will turn off on its own.

Video Surveillance

This is a critical part of self storage security. Every facility should have 24/7 monitored video surveillance everywhere. When you’re in a hallway or in the lot, there should be a camera recording your presence. This can discourage people from living in their units and help stop potential thieves.

Often, facilities work with security firms who monitor their cameras for them. Ask any facility you’re interested in how they handle this.

Onsite Management

This can refer to a manager who works onsite during open hours and makes sure the facility is running smoothly, or one who lives at the facility. If you find a place with a live-in manager, consider that a bonus. The trend of managers living at the facility is dwindling. A manager who lives on site is a big deterrent to would-be thieves, and they can respond to emergencies any time of the day or night.

Individually Alarmed Units

While most facilities have alarms on the gate and the buildings, not all have individually alarmed units. If you find one that does, put it at the top of your list. At such facilities, in the rare case that a theft breaks into a unit, the facility will be alerted immediately, and they’ll know which unit has been breached, making a response that much faster.

Look for Nokē by Janus International

Nokē is a locking system that more and more facilities are adopting. It replaces traditional padlocks with an electronic lock you access via your phone’s Bluetooth capabilities. Instead of needing a key, you use your phone at the facility gate, the entrance to the building, and at your unit. It’s highly secure and far more difficult to break into than even the toughest disc locks. If you find a facility using Nokē by Janus International, you know they take security and safety seriously.

What You Can Do

There are three steps you can take beyond these to ensure the security of your unit.

First, label each of your boxes and keep an inventory of what’s in them. Write down each item as you pack it, and which box you put it in. Then, transfer the list to an Excel or Google Sheets file.

Second, use your inventory to calculate the total value of what you’re storing. That will help you get enough self storage insurance, either through the facility or on your own, to cover the loss of any items. Also, if something is damaged or stolen, you’ll be able to look up what is missing.

Third, In your unit, put the most valuable things in back. This includes jewelry, television sets, art, and so on. Thieves usually grab things at the front and run. They don’t have time to sort through everything to look for what’s most valuable. By putting the least valuable items in front, you’ll minimize your losses in the rare case that someone gets into your unit.

Now, ready to find a facility? Check our extensive listings, which cover the U.S. and Canada.

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