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Bend storage unit theft victim speaks out

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Oct 22 2013 09:28:23 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns talks with a victim of storage unit thefts spanning over the past two years in Central Oregon.

BEND, Ore. -

Bend police said this week they are investigating more than two years' worth of storage unit thefts around town.

The only details police are releasing so far is that they have identified a suspect and recovered some of the stolen property. They also say the burglaries date all the way back to 2010 and involve 10 different storage facilities in Central Oregon.

A padlock wasn't enough to keep Carina Smith's valuables safe back in January, when she and her husband went to check their storage unit in Bend.

"We came up on it, and we realized that the lock looked kind of funny, so we got out and went to open it -- and realized it wasn't our lock, and it wasn't locked," Smith said Tuesday.

The thief reportedly cut the lock and replaced it with their own -- and stole about $3,000 to $4,000 worth of goods, including tools and furniture the Smiths stored away for their new home in Redmond.

"We come to find out, the facility only has one camera, and it's live -- so nothing is recording. We definitely had a false sense of security."

Steve Miller manages the Jamison Street Self Storage in Bend.

This unit is not involved in the burglaries, but has state-of-the-art security equipment.

"We have 18 cameras that monitor the property," Miller said. "We pay a couple security firms to monitor the property during the dark hours of the night, and every door on our property is individually alarmed."

Renting a space there could cost you a pretty penny, but Miller says you can't put a real price tag on safety.

"Cleanliness, the alarms, the fences, the other amenities for the security that a place has should be important. But they are not always to everyone," Miller said.

It's the No. 1 priority for the Smiths now.

"I want to stress the fact that you need to do your research and make sure the place you're actually putting your stuff, if you value it, to make sure that it's a safe place," Smith said. "And make sure you don't keep any valuable information -- it's easy to throw a file cabinet in there when you're moving, but I was really cautious not to do that, just in case."

And after nine months of waiting and no answers, the Smiths might get some of their belongings back.

"Possibly some of our stuff is in possession (of police)," Smith said. "Even if it's one or two things that weren't even worth that much, I don't care. It's just exciting to know that they may have caught the individual who was doing this, because there were a lot of people who were affected."

Anyone who has been a burglary or theft victim from a storage unit and who has not reported it is asked to call Bend police at 541-322-2969.

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