Do The Storage Facility Employees Go Through The Units?

Emily recently asked the following question:

Hi, I'm trying to understand how all of this works. Since you guys seem to know what some of the lockers have inside, does this mean the storage facilities have already gone through the lockers and they could have taken out items they wish to keep for themselves?


Storage facilities in the state of Texas are required to provide a brief description of the contents of the storage unit in the legal notice that they have published. Some storage facilities choose to ignore this as they do some of the other requirements in Chapter 59 of the Texas Property Code, but we won’t get into that at this time.

Once the storage facility has made several attempts to contact the tenant for payment, with no success, they will cut the lock and usually inventory the contents of the storage unit based on what they can see from the door. Very rarely do they ever move things or open boxes.

Should you be worried about this? Not really. Most storage facility managers & owners are very honest and respectable people. I’m sure there are a few bad apples, as there is in any business, that do enter the unit and remove the valuables before the auction. However, if you are only bidding on what you can see from the door, what may have been removed from the unit will not effect you.

I hope this answers you question and alleviates your concerns.

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I recently got into the buying of units and even though we have hit some good units, we have also hit some bad ones! I really do not mind hitting the bad ones but I really hate getting conned! Recently I attended an auction in Pantego and was amazed at the setup. One unit had a Winchester rifle box in plain view and of course was empty! To my surprise however one unit that I purchased had 2 safes in the unit! One of the safes was in plain view and was a hand made safe with a lock on the front of the safe. The second safe had its back to us with the front facing the wall and looked like a gun safe! Hmmm…what would you think? Of course the one with the lock (tools or something of value) and the other safe GUNS? Well when we went in the unit to clean out guess what…. The first safe with the lock on it had been cut but the lock left on so you could not even see the cut of the lock! The contents were nothing but papers and porno mags! The second safe was also the same and it was also hand made! To top that off all of the bags had been gone through with a fine tooth comb! SUSPICIOUS? What do you all think! Please leave your comments… If we are going to pay $$$ for these units this has to stop! NOT ACCUSING THEM BUT YOU TELL ME!

    • Mario,
      Unfortunately, this kind of thing does happen every now and then. Most storage facility managers and owners are hard working, honest people; However, like in any business, there will be some bad apples. The best advice I can give you, or anyone for that matter, is to only bid on what you can see from the door. I know it is tough out there right now and that there is a lot of competition, but you have to be patient for the right unit to come along at the right price. If you only bid on what you can see, then everything you can’t see is pure profit. You can find some amazing things in safes, jewelry boxes and lock boxes; However, most of the time, they will be empty. The good news is that the safes themselves could be worth a lot of money…yes, even hand made ones.

      Here is some advice to the newcomers. If you find a safe in a unit, never attempt to break into it yourself. First of all, it can be very frustrating. Second, you could damage the contents, if anything were to be inside the safe. Third, some of these safes actually have a self locking mechanism that will activate if you attempt to break into it. If this mechanism activates, you will be forced to take it to a locksmith and the safe will be ruined. Now, I’m not referring to lock boxes or small, inexpensive hotel safes but any safe that had a retail vale of $80 or more when it was new. Always take these to a locksmith or a safe cracker. In some cases, when dealing with a common manufacturer like Sentry or Brinks, they can call the manufacturer and get the combination & or key for less than $35. Common used home safes will typically resell from $75 – $120 depending on the condition and the features, so you can still make a good profit even after paying the locksmith. When dealing with better quality or antique safes, the locksmith or safe cracker has other techniques for gaining entry while causing little or no damage. Fees for these services can range from $50 – $300; however, some of these safes, especially the antiques, can resell for $2,000 – $3,000 or more.

  • I would like to reply to Travis Lanes coment “However, if you are only bidding on what you can see from the door, what may have been removed from the unit will not effect you.” You are wrong it does effect us and it is thoughts and beliefs like these that make this world a less holy place. It is steeling and against the 8th of the 10 commandments. People that are purchasing these units work VERY hard for their money and give many people the oppurtinuity to purchase goods at a discounted price, thing they may not otherwise even own.

    • Okay…. I’m not exactly sure where to begin with this. First and foremost, I’m a Christian and I’m not condoning the behavior of the few bad apples that do remove valuables from storage units. I’m merely saying that if you only bid on what you can see, what may or may not have been removed from the unit will not effect you because you would have never known those valuables were there in the first place. The only people that this effects are the gamblers; the people who habitually overpay hoping that their frivolous spending will be rewarded by some unforeseen treasure. The storage auction business isn’t the way it is portrayed on television. If you think you’re going to pay a thousand dollars for a unit and turn a $15,000 profit, you’re sadly mistaken. Now, I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, I’m just saying that these “dream units” don’t come along that often. Since we’re getting biblical, here is the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not bid on what you cannot see. LOL

      I used to buy and sell storage units full time and I’m aware that people in this business work very hard. I also agree that what we do helps some lower income people buy the things they need at a price they can afford. However, I don’t agree that the few bad apples that are removing valuables from storage units have a significant effect on the lower income people who purchase the merchandise from us. The storage facility employees that are stealing from the storage units are looking for valuables and high end items. They’re not concerned with the housewares, clothing or inexpensive furniture, which is what are lower income customers are looking for.

  • Was at an auction from your website today 9/15/12 at Texas storage 3619 Ave H Rosenberg TX at 1 pm. The owner of the property had already gone through all the units and brought all of the valuable items in the unit up to the front by the door. He also was inside the units opening up boxes and showing everyone there what was inside of them before he started bids on the unit. I was extremely disappointed and feel that my time and gas today were wasted. A lot of people there today were extremely annoyed by the way this auction was unprofessionally carried out and these are people like myself that have subscribed to your website for good honest auction leads.

    • Neil,

      I understand your frustration. This is the first time I have heard about them doing this. What the facility owner did is not normal. One of the auctioneers, Ken or Bobbie, should have stopped him from doing that; however, what he did is not illegal.

      I have actually been in similar situations. Once, I even had a facility owner bid against me and he won the unit. He obviously knew what was inside because later I heard him bragging that he found $60,000 worth of new AC compressors. That was really irritating.

      I really do understand your frustration. Just remember, auctions like this are not the norm and when you encounter one like this, all you can do is avoid it in the future.

  • I wanted to give a warning to buyers and I don’t see a forum to do so. The auction held at Storage Solutions , which is really not the name, is staging units and they are good. I bought one two years ago while I was still new to this and I was set up with a paint machine in sight and tarps over everything else. Turns out there where 13 broke TVs which were tore apart under the tarps. So I went again this weekend knowing this and bought another reluctantly. The washer and dryer looked good but they had tore apart insides. The couch pillows were turned upside down and the correct side was tore apart. A big TV but the wood bottom was tore to pieces. On back wall, all the boxes were empty. A tool bag was even stuffed with pillows.

    Another buyer came and told me all his boxes were empty. They ask for a deposit on winning a bid right at time of win, I guess after seeing some of same furniture over and over in different units, one may not pay. But I just wanted to warn people because I feel like there should be a recourse to these unscrupulous kind of places. I had to throw every bit of the unit away, every piece. I wish there was a blog to share these places with, although, most vets know this. I wish newbies knew too.

    • Larry, most storage facility managers and owners are honest business people and would never remove anything from a unit. Every now and then it does happen, but there really is no definite way to tell. Just remember, if you only bid on what you can see from the door, what may have been taken from the unit will not effect you.

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