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Self-storage business owners on alert for people living in units

Man found living in Lenexa storage unit last week
Posted at 4:58 PM, Nov 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-01 19:46:05-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro man faces charges after allegedly living in a storage unit with his two children. It brings attention to a familiar problem for those who own storage unit businesses in the metro.

Doug Esser owns Smithville Self Storage located at 14506 N. 169 Highway in Smithville, Missouri. He said it's fairly common for people who fall on hard times to seek refuge inside their storage unit because the rent is a lot cheaper.

"What we do on a daily basis, we do rounds on a golf cart. We go around and check every lock to make sure it's locked properly. We look for things that might be suspicious. Food is a big indicator," said Esser.

Esser said safety and security are huge parts of his job. Renters sign an agreement to not live on the property. 

When they find someone who needs help they refer them to social service agencies like the City Union Mission.

Dan Doty, executive director of the City Union Mission, said the shelter serves men, women, and children.

"People also live in cars, vans, and unheated buildings, so that part has been pretty common. You know sometimes it's because they don't know who to call or where to go," said Doty.

Doty said the shelter has been around for 94 years, and he knows people will go to great strides to stay safe and warm. Right now the shelter houses roughly 350 people.

He expects that number to rise as the temperatures fall.

Another reason Esser is diligent when it comes to security on his property.

"We try to give everyone an idea that we're here and vigilant," said Esser.

The City Union Mission encourages anyone who needs shelter to contact them directly.