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Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office warning public about significant increase in storage unit thefts

"We’ve never seen it happen at this level before"
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Posted at 12:02 PM, Jun 12, 2024

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office is warning the public about a significant increase in storage unit thefts.

Thieves are renting units with fake identities, storing stolen goods, and sometimes even throwing stolen items over fences, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We’ve never seen it happen at this level before. The uptick started during Covid and hasn’t stopped. We need to educate the public and take away the opportunity for these types of crimes. It’s the only way it’s going to stop,” said Investigations Sgt. Brett Cohn in a news release.

In 2020, Arapahoe County had 115 burglaries reported at rental storage facilities. Since then, the numbers have increased substantially. There have been 60 burglaries reported in 2024 so far.

The most common way thieves gain access to storage facilities is through fake IDs, using the stolen documents to rent units online, the sheriff’s office said.

Investigators ask public’s help identifying storage unit thieves

The sheriff’s office is looking for a man and a woman seen on surveillance camera burglarizing a storage unit at the Greenbox Self Storage, located at 8115 S. Chester Street, in April and returning the following month to collect the stolen items from their fraudulently obtained unit at the same facility.

The day after Marcel Kooyenga filled up his rental unit at Greenbox Self Storage, he found a couple outside his unit, along with several of his belongings.

"He asked me, 'Hey, is this your unit?' And he goes, 'Well, it was wide open when we got here, and I thought I'd put some stuff back in.' And so by this time, I knew something was up," explained Kooyenga.

Kooyenga said he wasn't sure if the couple was armed, so he accepted the help before they took off. That's when he called the police.

"I had a state-of-the-art place, and my bad for not locking it the first night," admitted Kooyenga.

According to the sheriff's office, a search warrant served at Public Storage in Greenwood Village in April recovered more than $50,000 in stolen property. They’re still working to identify the thief.

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Stolen items recovered from April search warrant.

The sheriff's office advises people to store only furniture and large items in storage units. Investigators also warn against storing firearms in a storage unit.

“The best advice we can give people is, only use a storage facility for furniture and large items. Never store anything meaningful or valuable inside. If you look closely, it states that on the contracts you sign before you rent,” said Investigator Nelson Trumbull in a news release.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office offered the following tips before signing a lease at a storage facility:

Ask employees:

  • To describe their safety and security features.
  • If they have video cameras and if they are monitored 24/7.
  • If the cameras are pointed directly at the units.
  • How good is the quality of the surveillance video?
  • If anyone lives on-site and if so, what hours are they there? Do they check the property?
  • If they get an alert if there is suspicious activity.
  • How often the staff conducts lock checks.
  • If all four walls and the ceiling are enclosed.

More tips:

  • Never put anything sentimental, meaningful or of any monetary value in a storage unit.
  • Never put anything with personal information in it, such as ID cards, checkbooks, etc.
  • Photograph and document all your belongings, including serial numbers.
  • Check on your storage unit once a week at a minimum.
  • If you notice something suspicious, let someone know.
  • Get an insurance policy for the value of your belongings in case your unit gets wiped out.
  • Install a camera inside your storage unit.
  • Consider placing an Apple AirTag on certain property within the unit so if stolen, it can be tracked.
  • Install a motion sensor on the door so it alerts you when someone tries to gain access.

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