In recent weeks thieves have taken a shine to storage lockers in the city of Hannibal, according to police.
“There has been an upsurge over the past two months at all the unit locations,” said Lt. John Zerbonia of the HPD.
Among the victims is Chris Daniel, whose disabled son recently had taken a pair of flat-screen TVs and some tools.
“I was very upset because we had only had that storage unit for probably two weeks,” she said. “We don’t have money to replace any of that stuff.”
According to Daniel, she ran into other woman whose locker was broken into.
“She said they opened it, but it was so full they didn’t rob it. She got pretty lucky on that,” said Daniel.
In Hannibal, John Hark operates two different storage sites.
“If they want to store their possessions in there, they’re storing them at their risk,” he said. “We caution them that they can get storage rental insurance through some of the insurance companies.”
Kyle Mack of Shelter Insurance says that 10 percent of a renter’s personal property coverage can be applied to items stored “anywhere in the world,” including a storage locker.
“If I had anything super nice and I was going to have it in a storage shed I think I’d seek some type of insurance,” said Hark.
Tough to solve
When items are taken it’s frequently a difficult crime for law enforcement to solve.
“The challenge in solving these thefts comes from the lack of evidence and video,” said Zerbonia. “If they don’t sell the merchandise to local pawn shops, it is difficult to trace. Most units do not have surveillance video.”
Many storage areas are thief-friendly, according to Zerbonia.
“They have garage type doors that are secured with only pad locks. A cheap pair of bolt cutters can get you in,” he said. “There is little or no lighting to ward off criminal activity. Most are located in isolated or remote areas where suspects can see vehicles approaching and there are plenty of places to hide.
“In the bigger municipalities, such as St. Louis, the storage facilities have layers of security. Fencing, video and some units are contained inside a large building which is also secured.”
While one of Hark’s storage sites is fenced in and has security lights, he knows even that is not a deterrent to a determined thief.
Page 2 of 2 - “When it comes to a thief, you can’t stop him,” he said.
Despite having had items stolen, Daniel continues to use a storage shed.
“We didn’t have any choice. We had to put his (son’s) stuff in storage and it took everything we had to do it. We didn’t have money to move everything out or we would have switched storage units,” she said. “I just wish we had someplace where we could feel more comfortable and not have to worry about little things like that.”
Hannibal is not alone when it comes to storage site break-ins. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that police in Wentzville are seeking the public’s help in solving a series of thefts at storage lockers and in RVs.
Police say several lockers and RVs at two facilities were burglarized March 30-31. Electronics and tools valued at around $3,000 were taken.
Surveillance footage showed two suspects. Police are also looking for a 1990s model Jeep Cherokee with a large Grateful Dead sticker on the back window.