As of Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Storage unit burglaries:
“It’s a continual problem,” said Detective Jerry Johnson, Idaho County Sheriff’s Office. “There isn’t a month that goes by that we don’t have at least one.”
County investigators are currently working a series of storage unit burglaries. They are asking those who may have been victims of such a crime within the past six months at storage facilities between Grangeville and Riggins, and who have not reported it, to provide information that may help solve some cases:
- The last known date items were in the unit, when the burglary was discovered, and as detailed a list as possible of what was stolen.
Earlier this month, Barry R. Kretschmer, 33, of Grangeville, was arrested for burglarizing Gortsema’s Storage on the truck route, which, Johnson added, he reportedly admitted to hitting at least 12 units at the Grangeville facility. Kretschmer, he said, is also a suspect in unit burglaries reported recently at Adkison Storage facilities in town.
Storage facilities have improved with better lighting, surveillance cameras and security fencing, “but we still have issues,” Johnson said. Part of this is due to the 24-hour access for storage facilities that make it not uncommon to have people on site at any hour of the day. So for example, a prospective burglar can rent a unit at a facility and so legitimately have access through gate, day or night. In one such instance, according to Johnson, the burglar was stealing from units and then storing the items in a locker at the same facility.
One ploy to delay discovery of the theft is for burglars to replace a cut lock with a new one, according to Johnson. So for security or an owner driving by, at a glance the unit appears secure with no sign it has been burglarized.
“Most of the storage people we deal with are very concerned about it; they’re working with us and upgrade their security,” Johnson said, “but it’s still a continual problem.”
Worse for the victims is most of the items stolen in such burglaries are traded for controlled substances, rather than taken to a pawn shop.
“And that makes it difficult for us to recover them,” he said.
For those utilizing storage units, Johnson advises preventative measures starting with not storing guns or other valuable items or family heirlooms in these units.
Owners should have an inventory of items being stored and should regularly check the unit is secure and undisturbed.