Vandalized at Storage USA

When I went to retrieve my belongings from a locker at Storage USA, I found that the locker had been broken into and most of the boxes opened and rifled through.

In early June I rented a locker at a storage facility nearby so the house could be de-cluttered, in preparation for the final remodeling steps and for listing it for sale. I have used storage facilities before with no problem, and this one was largely chosen for its proximity and because it had a special "move-in" discount. The facility was surrounded on one side by a major freeway and by a residential neighborhood and hospital on the others.

During the entire month of June I made several trips to the locker to stash more stuff. There were never any problems or signs that anything was amiss.

The first sign of trouble was on July 17 when I took another set of boxes over. The security gate wouldn't let me in.

"What's up with the gate? It won't let me in."

"Let me check.... it's because your rent isn't paid."

"Can't be -- you were supposed to be automatically charging my credit card."

"Nope, we don't have any record of that -- you would have had to sign up for that."

"I'm sure I did."

"Well, I don't have it. We do have your vacate notice."

To resolve the impass, I handed over my credit card to pay the July rent.

When I arrived home a certified letter was delivered to me from Storage USA notifying me that my rent wasn't paid, my stuff would be held as collateral, and a hefty penalty would be levied for late payment, as well as a fee for the letter. Moments after reading the letter, the phone rang. It was the manager of Storage USA saying that he had "found" my credit card form. I explained that I had just received his letter and was not happy with the extra charges resulting from the fact that they had screwed up. I pressed to have to extra charges credited to my card.

"Can't be done. Don't know how to do that."

"Well, I'm sure a bright person like you can figure it out."

The next day I got another call from the manager saying that he had credited my card. The corrected charge appeared on my credit card on July 18.

All's well.... not! Five days later, on 23-July, I went to the facility with my rental truck to pick up all my belongings and vacate the locker. Arriving at the locker, I found a second red padlock attached to the door. I assumed this was left over from the payment fiasco and set out to find someone. On my way to the office, an assistant manager came by in a golf cart. I flagged him down and explained my predicament. We went to the office "to check," and after verifying that my account was paid he came back with me to remove the padlock.

At the door of the locker the assistant manager said, "Your hasp has been cut." Sure that the extra lock was about payment, I hadn't thought to inspect the door, and sure enough, part of the hasp had been cut so it could be bent to the side, releasing the door without touching my padlock.

When the door was opened, the first thing that caught my eye was a component of my stereo set sitting on top of some boxes. Then I noticed that other boxes had obviously been opened: flaps were torn and packing paper was sticking out of some.

By this time, the manager arrived en scène, having been summoned by the assistant manager. He said he'd tried to call me but couldn't reach me.

"Did you leave a message?" He said yes, but then changed his mind when he realized I had caught him in a lie.

The manager then said, "You can file a report, if you want to. There's nothing we can do." And left.

How it all ends. In the end, I loaded everything into the truck and left.

All but four or five boxes had been opened, but nothing was apparently taken. Even the stereo was still there, albeit out of its box. This is discouraging when even thieves don't think your stuff is worth taking!

The opened boxes had all been re-packed and re-stacked neatly, except for a few boxes of books that had to be arranged "just-so" to fit.

I didn't file a police report. It wouldn't have accomplished anything (except possibly building a pattern of incidents), and I really wanted to get on with loading the truck.

That said, I find it all very suspicious:

  • Mine was the only locker broken into in the whole building
  • The break-in occurred after the flap about payment a few days earlier
  • Access to the facility is by code, and video cameras are in place in the driveway
  • Nothing was taken

How weird is that?