Storage Auctions

Beware of staged units!

Beware of staged units!
« on: January 06, 2013, 06:26:54 AM »
Last weekend I attended a vault auction in Sun Valley, CA, which was conducted by none other than American Auctioneers.  There was 60 units originally up for bid, but as the day progressed, that number suprisingly shot up to almost 100.  So many that the auction was stopped and is going to be continued in a few weeks.  Based on my research, I bid on and won a vault owned by a 50-something year old woman who resided in Calabasas, an upscale area of LA (right down the road from the Kardashians).  On first appearance, it looked promising.  In front of the unit was an oven, boxes and shipping crates that are generally used to package artwork, statues or electronics.  There was eight units that was (supposedly) owned by this woman, and the rest contained similar items.  I proceed to clean out the unit and remove the oven and crates first, saving opening them for last.  As I move them out of the unit, the rest comes to light and it's total garbage: Old office chairs, nasty comforters, filing cabinet, worn out lawn chairs.  And a framed porn poster, something that every middle-aged woman owns!  Not to mention that all of the boxes had been opened and retaped.  My last hope is the crates, I open them, only to discover that there's children's drawings inside.  Now I have been buying storage units on and off since 2007 and have never come across one that seems so blatantly staged.  I'm always prepared for the worst when I buy a locker but this one just seemed so shady.  What made it worse is the auctioneer (not Dan or Laura Dotson, one of their associates) was spouting off prior to selling the units about how this woman lived in Calabasas and that's it's "good stuff".  Of course I didn't take him at his word, but since I had researched the owner online, it seemed like a safer bet.
I don't know if this is happening in other places but at several vault auctions I've attended in SoCal, I'm seeing retaped boxes and the valuable items prominently displayed right in the front.  Hopefully this will serve as a warning & spare you some dollars in the future.  Curious to hear if anyone else has experienced this lately.

Offline MovieMan

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Re: Beware of staged units!
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2013, 09:04:41 AM »
Curious to hear if anyone else has experienced this lately.

Only since December, 2010.

Re: Beware of staged units!
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 02:53:32 PM »
 :'(With the high turnouts; 100-150 people at the two last American (Dotson)  Auctions, in the LA/Orange County area I am surprised that they are goosing the units as well. Well, not really, I am skeptical about the auction scene in So-Cal; Even a Camarillo auction was frequented by a Storage wars regular, selling at $4300 to the regular.

So the moral is, try multiple areas, and channels of buying/selling.

Offline Travis

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Re: Beware of staged units!
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2013, 09:58:15 PM »
It definitely sounds staged...probably by the tenant. In California, if a storage unit sells for more than the tenant owed, does the excess revert back to the tenant?

Offline Alias300

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Re: Beware of staged units!
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2013, 11:26:39 PM »


   (E) That any excess proceeds of the sale over the lien amount and

costs of sale will be retained by the owner and may be reclaimed by

the occupant or claimed by another person at any time for a period of

one year from the sale and that thereafter the proceeds will escheat

to the county in which the sale is to take place.

Re: Beware of staged units!
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2013, 11:42:34 PM »
I am still kicking myself for buying this unit, even after noticing boxes in other units that were retaped.  Saw this at another vault auction in North Hollywood, with all the good items prominently displayed right in the front of the units and boxes with new tape on them.  It's gotten hard enough just trying to score a good unit in an oversaturated, hyper-competitive market without having to worry if the storage company and/or auctioneer is trying to screw you with a staged/pilfered locker.

Re: Beware of staged units!
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2013, 10:07:12 AM »
This doesn't surprise me at all.  You have to look very carefully at everything.  I've seen more then a few units that looked "staged".  Many good looking items up front, open, etc. close to the door.  Then boxes, totes, or blankets covering the rest.

Just recently I found out one location of my 7 facility trip let the tenant back in to pull some items out of his unit he was going to loose.  The lady that bought the unit got what she wanted (beat up working fridge) for $50 so was no loss.  But I was pissed to find out that the facility manager had came up to her the next day and asked "Did you find anything good in there?"  Upon chit-chat back and forth is how she found out that the facility manager had allowed the owner to pull out some boxes and other stuff.

Big thing now is to combine units to look like they are full, nice units.  Only to find out it's 4 different people in the unit with mixed results.  I don't mind combined units but they should be declared loudly to all that they are.

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