Renters claim false advertising, bad management, following Aurora storage unit theft

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Renters at a Public Storage in Aurora continue to clean up a big mess, after at least 16 storage units were burglarized and ransacked early Sunday morning.

It happened at the 1150 S. Idalia St. location.

“They walked us down there to look at the storage. It was an awful mess—stuff thrown everywhere.  It was horrible,” Sonia Neblett told FOX31 on Sunday.

She said her unit had irreplaceable items.

“My auntie passed away two years ago. I had a lot of my Auntie’s stuff, and I can’t get that back,” Neblett said.

So did Tiara Simmons, whose mother recently passed away. She is temporarily staying with a friend, and stored most of her personal belongings in her unit.

“I had ashes, I had heirlooms. I took possession of a lot of my mother’s items. So those are the things that I’ll never be able to get back. And those are the things that are hurtful to me, versus my TV’s and things like that—those can all be replaced,” Simmons said.

“People were crying and breaking down about their items. I would not recommend them, because they showed no sympathy for us at all.”

Both women were in tears when they returned to their units Monday to start sorting through everything.

“A lot of my stuff is gone or broke,” Neblett said. “I don’t know if it’s in someone else’s storage, if it’s gone, if it was taken—I don’t know.”

Victims discovered management had moved all of the broken and tampered items in the hallway, into storage units—many of which were put back in the incorrect units.

“We’re not sure what property belongs to whom,” Colin McGuire said, who had just started renting his unit five days before the break-in.

“When I showed up to go through my property, here was a lady there that was having problems with a bunch of property that didn’t belong to her that was pushed into her unit. When we made a request of management to help us with that, that said they couldn’t touch the item—even though they had already pushed them back into the units,” he told FOX31.

“They’ve handled this entire situation very poorly,” he added.

McGuire has begun compiling a list of other victims, who all claim they were sold on a more high-security premises—through brochures, phone calls, and online advertisements.

“We all found that the site did not have security cameras as claimed in advertising. They said there’s supposed to be an on-site manager, which there is not,” McGuire explained.

His claim was corroborated by Neblett and Simmons.

They advertised they had 24-hour security. They had high-tech security systems, cameras throughout the building,” Neblett recalled. “She said, ‘all of our units have cameras in and out, all around—so there’s different angles that are all secured.’”

She says they found out Sunday there weren’t any cameras inside the building, where the burglarized, climate-controlled units are.

“I’m noticing I don’t see any cameras. So I’m asking the lady, ‘where’s any of your cameras?’ [She says] ‘Oh, we don’t have cameras here.’ She said, ‘there’s only two cameras on this property,’” Neblett said.

Public Storage has not responded to our multiple phone calls and emails.

We spoke with a legal expert who said they may be able to pursue legal action, depending on the original advertising.

“If someone feels they were improperly induced into a contract because of fraudulent advertising, that’s an entirely different claim,” criminal defense attorney Chris Decker said.

He says, otherwise, the contract is very “tight” when it comes to any liability from the theft.

My initial thoughts after reviewing the standard form contract that was signed by the parties is ‘caveat emptor.’ That’s latin for buyer beware,’ Decker said.

“Unfortunately in this situation, this contract is very tight for the storage facility, in limiting the nature, type, and value of any claim that could be brought against them,” he added.

Neblett, Simmons, and McGuire also claim there were other recent break-ins at the same facility, but say management told them they were not required to inform other customers about it.

“I was there a week or two ago, and I overhead a man saying his storage had been broken into,” Simmons recalled. “I thought maybe it was an isolated incident. But when I was there today, there was another lady who said that same day, her unit had been broken into.”

FOX31 is still waiting on a response from the Aurora Police Department to verify additional theft reports from the site earlier this month.

They’ll now have to go through a 3rd party insurance, as part of a monthly liability fee—or go through their own insurance—to recoup up to $5,000 with of stolen items.

“I don’t think that is going to be as easy as it seems. And I already got that insight when I talked to the insurance company today,” Neblett said.

They want to warn other potential renters to ask a lot of questions before signing their contract.

“Look for cameras. Show me the cameras!” Shirley Vigil-Lee exclaimed, who had rented with Public Storage for 14 years. “Like ‘show me the money,’ seriously. Show me the cameras! Show me the live in the manager!”

According to renters, Public Storage is bringing in a truck Thursday to remove unclaimed items.

Those wishing to move their items somewhere else, as a result of the theft, will not be reimbursed for any moving expenses.

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