*Pros & Cons Of A Storage Facility*
By: 2manytoyz
2 December 2010

As my handle implies, I've been accused of having too many toys. Consequently, my garage is pretty full of vehicles, tools, and hobby equipment. I don't "need" emergency gear as often as I need my other stuff. It only makes sense to take the generator, chainsaw, and other important, but infrequently used gear, to a nearby storage facility. It's locked up, safe, and accessible 24/7/365... right? Maybe not.

I had a few eye opening experiences in the past couple of years. The following photos give you a glimpse of things you might experience also.

First issue: Fire

My SUV is parked in front of my storage unit. At the end of the row, you can see damaged storage units. Too close for comfort.

Someone had illegally connected a dehumidifier to lighting circuit, using undersized wiring. His uninsured bay caught on fire, and the heat/smoke damaged the surrounding units. The smoke came out of ALL the storage units in the row. They all suffered smoke damage. It is the responsibility of the renter to get their own insurance. The facility was not liable for any damage.

There was so much smoke, the Fire Dept wasn't sure what all was on fire. Their fix was to slice open all the bays and have a peek.

The rules at our storage facility, and probably most others, is no dangerous or flammable commodities may be stored. The follow up from this was a call to everyone with a bay to come to the facility for an inspection. The owners wanted to verify no illegal electrical mods, and no hazardous/flammable commodities.

Next issue: Security

The facility I'm using is above average. They have a 6' high chain link fence, barbed wire, LOTS of security cameras, an electronic gate with individual PIN codes, and a security guard living in a trailer within the compound. Looks very impressive.

Last year, I got a phone call from the place. "You need to come down here and file a report with the police. Your storage unit, and MANY others, were broken into last night". Dozens of units had the locks cut off that night. They entered through a small personnel entry gate on the back corner of the compound. I didn't even know it existed as it's hidden from view. They cut that lock, and opened up bay after bay, quietly cutting the locks with a bolt-cutter. None were cut that had the more secure locks with a hidden shank. Also none of the places near the guard's trailer were hit. Again, it's the renter's responsibility to get insurance. The facility was not liable for any losses.

But they had video, right? Yes they did. But all the cameras are easily spotted, and easily repositioned. They pushed all the cameras to look the other way, while their faces were hidden. One more reason to use covert and vandal resistant cameras.

I left work, and drove to the facility. My God there were a LOT of open bays! Stacks of cut locks. I was having a small heart attack. My father's NEW boat was parked in my bay. The door was half opened, wasn't sure what I'd see. Fortunately, they didn't take the boat, or the Yamaha outboard. They did take a 32" TV (old tube style - couldn't give it away!), my hand truck the TV was on (yes, that made it too easy!), a pressure washer, and a few tools. They didn't even bother taking the Snap-On hand tools they had pulled from the boat's console. All in all, I was very lucky.

I replaced both locks that day with the disk type locks with a hidden shank. Bolt-cutters have nothing to bite on, so these are more difficult to remove. Dad eventually sold his boat for a larger one, that now lives elsewhere, and the boat is now insured. I downsized the storage unit last weekend for one half the size. It's located close to the guard's trailer.

So how hard is it to cut a lock?

I bought a 6 pack of Brinks brand hardened padlocks. 3/8" shank, good stuff. I took another one to work, and tried cutting it with a 24" & 36" bolt cutter. With great effort, I managed to cut it with the 24" cutter. The 36" bolt cutter sliced it with ease.

I talked with the locksmith at our Govt. facility regarding locks. Even Uncle Sam's padlocks are subject to such easy removal. So it wasn't a quality issue, just nature of the material.

So I don't use these type of locks anymore. So the hockey puck (clamshell) type are more secure, right?

When I went to downsize the storage unit, one lock on a door wouldn't open. Probably sand in the lock (I'm in FL). I notified the front office that I would be cutting off the lock a couple of hours prior to doing so. NOBODY working there, or the various sheeple there, gave me a second look, or asked if I should be doing this.

Mr. lock, meet Mr. Dewalt 18V angle grinder, with a cut-off wheel.

This was very loud. The metal door acted as a sounding board, yet nobody looked my way. I was careful not to slice up the door mechanism.

It cut through the stainless steel clamshell, and the shank. Hot knife through butter. Did take a couple of minutes. Might have been able to do this with a Dremel Moto-Tool, but would have had a hard time cutting all the way through due to the small cut-off wheels they use. Bottom line, no lock is cut-proof.

Next issue: Access

My high-tech storage facility has a digital keypad that controls the entry gate. Very slick. No limited hours. I can go/leave anytime I want. Wonderful! But this is hurricane prone FL. I also live in "lightning alley". Power outages are a common occurrence. No power, no access. If I absolutely had to, I could simply cut the chain on the gate. Stand a chance of being kicked out of the facility afterwards, or even getting arrested. Bottom line, when I need the gear the most, the power will likely be out.


I now keep no emergency gear at the storage facility. I keep infrequently used tools, lawn equipment, mementos, holiday decorations, etc. The generator, gas cans, propane, batteries, inverters, food, gear, etc, all live in the garage. I control access. I have security cameras, a dog, and an armed guard with bad intent! Very little worry of a fire from an incompetent neighbors, like at the storage facility. My power doesn't go out (alt-power setup). My house isn't an obvious target for a skilled team of crooks. I am grey. My house looks like my neighbors. Much of my emergency gear is hidden in the garage, out of sight when the door is open.

If I need my emergency gear, no need to fight the elements outside, or crowds of sheeple, just simply go to the garage. If you are using a storage facility, consider putting less critical items there, and keeping the important gear at home.

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