Magazine article National Defense

Inside the Box: Self-Storage Facilities Eye Sensors to Detect Terrorist Threats

Magazine article National Defense

Inside the Box: Self-Storage Facilities Eye Sensors to Detect Terrorist Threats

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Prior to the 1993 World Trade Center and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings, the perpetrators used self-storage facilities to hide explosives and briefly housed the trucks used to carry out the attacks. A 2004 FBI memo to self-storage facility owners warned, "Terrorist plots that involve IED's [improvised explosive devices] have utilized rental storage facilities to house parts of the bomb or other supplies until the plotters have the time to assemble the weapon or prepare the attack."

Because of this threat, LifeStorage, a self-storage facility based in Chicago, has more than doubled the money it spends on counterterrorism technology. Potential for covert, illegal activity is especially high at facilities capable of housing cars or trucks and those with 24/7 drive-up access where surveillance is minimal and entry unrestricted, said a company statement.

The company began working with Defentect, a defense technology firm, to install sensors that detect terrorist weapons such as radiological devices used to make so-called dirty bombs.

Storage facilities are attractive to criminals and terrorists because they are "inexpensive, accessible and anonymous for the most part," Defentect President Frank O'Connor said.

LifeStorage has spent $135,000 to install Defentect's chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threat-detection sensors.

Matt Clark, vice president of operations at LifeStorage, said "We've always been at the cutting edge of technology in our industry and we believe this is a real valuable feature to our facilities. …

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