Added security measures hope to stop thefts at storage facility

Extra Space Storage has added additional security measures after a surge in break-ins during the first half of the year.

In all, police estimate about 23 percent of all commercial burglaries in Claremont occur at Extra Space Storage.

A new surveillance camera, razor wire and an additional three feet in wrought iron were just some of the additions made to the beleaguered storage facility at 525 West Arrow Highway, according to Extra Space VP of Corporate Communications Jeff Norman.

“Lighting was also added in multiple areas of the property,” Mr. Norman said in an email. “We are currently renovating an apartment area so a manager can live on site for additional security.”

The facility also added privacy mesh, a welded box to the fire gate and 300 feet of razor wire along a wall near the RV parking area, Mr. Norman said.

The extra safety measures are in response to an uptick in burglaries at the location during the first few months of 2017. From January to June 2017, 19 Extra Space units were burglarized during eight separate break-ins, according to commercial burglary data obtained from the Claremont Police Department.

In most of these burglaries, multiple units were targeted, with the burglars either breaking locks to the units or forcing the doors off. In three separate incidents—April 11, April 20 and May 3—three units were broken into in a single night, according to the data.

Up until recently, the burglars responsible for these crimes were rarely caught. The exception was on August 1, when three people—40-year-old Marlana Alvarez of Pomona, 40-year-old Jason Brown of La Verne and 33-year-old transient Can Phao—were arrested after surveillance footage reportedly captured Mr. Brown riding a bicycle that was stolen from one of the units.

Already, the new security measures seem to be working—the surveillance camera that caught the burglars in the act was recently added to the facility, police said.

Claremont police noted victims of these break-ins usually don’t know what was stolen in the first place due to the items in the storage unit’s being out of sight and out of mind, according to Lt. Mike Ciszek of the Claremont Police Department.

“If you want to write a search warrant, it makes it difficult because we don’t know what to put in the search warrant to find the property that was taken,” Lt. Ciszek said.

There are numerous ways a thief can get into a storage facility other than jumping over a wall. Lt. Ciszek noted piggybacking—the act of running or driving in behind someone who has a code to the facility—as an issue.

“If someone sits there and waits and a person goes in and has a legitimate code and they run in behind them or drive in behind them,” he said. “I don’t know if you can prevent that either, so that’s a possibility.”

Lt. Ciszek has advice for those who want to keep track of their valuables in case of a possible burglary—use a quality lock that can resist bolt cutters, don’t put any valuable possessions in storage, ask what kind of security measures the storage facility has and make sure it’s safe for you.

Mr. Norman expanded on that, urging Claremonters who rent a unit at the facility to insure their belongings in the event of a burglary.

Mr. Norman said Extra Space has been in contact with the police department to work with them when a burglary occurs.

“We have provided camera footage, as well as other information to assist their investigation, and we have encouraged any impacted tenants to file a police report,” Mr. Norman said. “We will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement in any way possible, and we are appreciative of their efforts.”

Part of company protocol is to advise existing tenants of a break-in when it occurs. Despite the amount of break-ins at the facility, Mr. Norman relayed that only one person has moved out as a result.

When asked about why the facility has become such a target for burglars, Mr. Norman noted an increase in foot traffic might be to blame. But Lt. Ciszek blames the relative isolation of the space—it’s located in the vicinity of the Keck Graduate Institute campus directly east of the Technip building—as a reason why it has turned into a hot target for thieves.

Ultimately, putting in the extra safety measures will increase the overall security of the facility, Mr. Norman said.

“We want all of our customers to feel that their valuables are safe and secure at any Extra Space Storage location,” he added.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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