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CMPD Detectives testify on security lapses at Extra Space Storage

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Detectives for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department lamented a lack of security measures and other failures during a lawsuit involving Extra Space Storage.

During a break-in at an Extra Space Storage facility police waited days for video surveillance when they finally got it there was just the one angle, hindering their investigation. It was just one of the issues detectives said they ran into while dealing with this company to try and help victims.

Ridgley Phillips filed a lawsuit against Extra Space Storage after her unit was broken into and many of her valuables taken. She claimed an employee from Extra Space told her there were cameras throughout the facility that were regularly monitored.

“It didn’t cross my mind that my stuff would be stolen,” Phillips said.

WBTV reported Phillips’ story in February of 2020.

Phillips case against Extra Space Storage went to trial in July. Two CMPD detectives testified to the lax security practices they encountered while investigating break ins at Extra Space Storage.

“I’ll be able to tell this story ten years from now. It was very upsetting to me,” Detective Stephen Houser said during the trial.

Houser investigated the break-in at Phillip’s unit and said he tried to get Extra Space to notify other customers their units might have been compromised.

“I was told that’s not the way they do it, basically the people will just come and find out on their own that their unit has been broken into,” Houser said.

Houser also said he had to wait a week before getting this one camera angle and even then said Extra Space asked that he get a court order for them to release it.

“First I’ve heard of that, eight days later,” Houser said

“If a business is a victim they never ask for a court order ever.”

A spokesperson for Extra Space disputed this claim saying it took three days to produce the video.

Detective Richard Colpitts was investigating a break-in at another Extra Space storage involving the same Uhaul and said the company did not follow advice to install additional cameras, which makes them an easy target for criminals.

“They’re (criminals) looking for an easy way out, they’re looking for a quick buck and if they can go to a particular location and not get caught they’re going to continue going back to the same location and there will be repeat victims over and over again,” Colpitts said.

Detective Houser said after he identified whose code was used to enter the Extra space storage gate for the break-in, he asked one of the employees not to inform that person so he could talk to them with the element of surprise.

That employee claims Detective Houser did not instruct her not to notify the customer about the gate code.

WBTV reached out to Extra Space Storage for a response to the CMPD’s security issues with the company. A spokesperson wrote “These were false claims brought against Extra Space and our Extra Space employees in this case about an uncharacteristic break-in from over 3 years ago.”

The spokesperson also wrote “We have a great history of assisting local authorities whenever possible.”

A spokesperson did not say whether additional cameras had been installed only saying “The site had and has sufficient camera coverage.”

Despite the detectives’ testimony, a jury ruled against Phillip in her case because they found she’d signed a contract with Extra Space Storage essentially absolving the company of any liability.

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