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Anti-Crime Effort Reduces Storage Business Break-ins

Posted February 12, 2007

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— If you ever moved to a new city, or moved away for a while, you may have had to rent a storage unit.

That's especially true in a military community like Fayetteville, where soldiers are deployed for months on end. Storage units had become targets for thieves, but a police program designed to end a rash of break-ins at storage facilities is working.

It’s called Operation Safe Watch. Police say it’s already put a big dent in thefts since it began last year.

Fayetteville has 27 storage businesses, most of them used by members of the military.

“We didn’t want our soldiers and airmen moving out of their apartments and putting their entire life, their belongings and stuff into one of these facilities only to find out that their stuff is missing when they come back from overseas,” said Sgt. Mike Urian, who directs Safe Watch.

Police statistics show that in 2004, there were 74 break-ins at storage units. In 2005, the count jumped to 135. In 2006, however, first year of the program, the number went down to 35.

American Flag Storage is one of the businesses taking part in Safe Watch. That means it’s had a security survey done by a crime-prevention specialist.

Police say the weakest link in all cases has been the kind of locks issued to customers. American Flag now issues bigger door locks that are tougher to break. On their side, officers also regularly patrol inside and outside the facility.

Police say drugs, stolen property and other illegal activity have been reported at storage facilities around the city, and that’s why officers urge storage managers to guard against renting out to would-be criminals by requiring at least two forms of identification, a valid address, and a valid contact number.

Tuesday, the police department will hold a ceremony to recognize all of those managers who are participating in Operation Safe Watch.


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