Security experts offer tips to protect items in storage

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
CHICAGO (WLS) -- How can you protect your valuable storage items? The I-Team spoke with security experts to find out.

The I-Team uncovered vulnerabilities in storage facilities and has the advice from security experts on how to keep your belongings safe and what you should avoid.

"Do your homework and tour the facility prior to signing the contract," said Officer Eric Swaback, Skokie Police Department.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the I-Team received hundreds of burglary reports at storage facilities in several suburbs. So far this year, Libertyville has been hit 43 times, Waukegan has been hit 84 times, Skokie has been hit 54 times, Orland Park has been hit just once and Naperville has not been hit at all. The leader is Lincolnwood, with 104 burglaries. That makes a grand total of 286 break-ins so far in 2017.

So how do you avoid being the next victim?

"There are some facilities that have on-site 24-hour monitoring," Swaback said. "If not, at least have it under video surveillance 24/7."

The I-Team also rented a storage facility in Lincolnwood, the town with the largest number of burglaries and brought in security expert Jordan Ferrantelli to look at it.

"Do they have cameras down each hallway?" He asked. "If you can check your unit once a month you'll probably be in the time frame of where there would be video evidence if needed."

"The majority of ours were through the locks being cut and the door being pried open," Swaback said.

So Ferrantelli said to use two locks if possible.

"These locks are actually harder to break into once they are on the storage unit compared to your long-hanging locks because the wire cutters can't get in here as easily," he said of new round padlocks.

But the locks don't guarantee security if the ceiling of the unit indoor facilities is wire mesh.

"It's window shopping. I can look into this neighboring unit here and identify whether or not there is material worth stealing and I can go through and systematically look at every single storage unit in this facility," Ferrantelli said.

If you do have high-priced items in storage, make sure your homeowners insurance policy covers them. Experts said you may want to check your unit as often as possible because many facilities delete their surveillance video every 30 days.

Libertyville police recently used surveillance video to bust a thief and were able to return most of the stolen goods.
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