(WHDH)– They say they were promised a safe, secure place to keep their belongings. But after thieves broke into their self-storage units, the customers ended up more sorry than safe! 7’s Hank Phillippi Ryan investigates.

“When I got to my storage, and I looked, I just fell to my knees, and I was crying so hard I couldn’t move for a good ten, fifteen minutes,” Carol says.

“Carol,” says she is a domestic violence victim, so we are keeping her identity anonymous.

She was preparing to escape an abusive relationship and was using a storage unit in Randolph to hide the things she’d need for her new life.

She was devastated when the lock on her unit was cut off— and her possessions were scattered in the rain.

“How much did you rely on them to protect your stuff?” Hank asked.

“I relied on them one hundred percent. That’s why I rented it from them,” Carol says.

Investigators tell us burglars broke into 26 other units at that same self-storage facility last year.

This police report lists all the stolen valuables Carol says were inside, including the urn with her mother’s ashes, her jewelry, and $10,000 in cash.

“It has traumatized me,” Carol says.

Michael was traumatized too. First, his home was destroyed in the 2011 Monson tornado.

He put what was left of his property at this storage place in Worcester.

But thieves hit 128 units here too, last year, taking $600 worth of his stuff.

“Where over 100 units were broken into, to me, my personal opinion, it’s negligence,” Michael says.

The storage facility tells us, “we brought in significant security enhancements to the location and have not had any break-ins since…”

The FBI’s latest numbers show in 2018; there were about 17,000 burglaries, break-ins, and thefts in storage places across the country.

Some break-ins are caught on camera.

Experts know video surveillance can help deter theft and catch the culprits—but in Carol’s case, police say there were no cameras facing the units.

So, before you rent, do some investigating.

“You want to make sure that there are surveillance cameras, and those surveillance cameras are working. Surveillance cameras not just at the entry, but all the way around the property and inside,” Kathleen Gallagher, the SafetyChick says.

So how can you protect your things?

First, check your homeowners’ or renter’s policy to see if it covers property stored “off-premises.”

If it doesn’t get additional coverage.

Then take pictures to document everything you put inside.

But remember, even having insurance doesn’t mean you’ll be fully reimbursed. Carol’s policy didn’t cover her money and jewelry, and they are likely gone forever.

“It’s just terrible. It’s a lesson learned,” Carol says.

The storage company Carol used never answered our requests for information.

Police in Randolph and Worcester say they’re still looking for who is responsible for the break-ins.

If you have a tip for investigators, click here to contact Randolph police and click here to contact Worcester police.

Click here for tips from the Insurance Information Institute about using self-storage facilities.

(Copyright (c) 2021 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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