Investigators in Rockingham County are looking for the person responsible for allegedly breaking into a storage unit, and then setting it on fire to cover it up.
In the meantime, property owners have to pick up the pieces of what could be a costly loss. For situations like this, individuals who rent out space at storage facilities should be relying on their insurance to cover the cost, but for those who don't have any coverage, they'll have to pay for everything.
Police say burglary and arson destroyed the belongings of several renters at the storage facility in Broadway.
"At this point we're still trying to assess the damage. There's so many people and individual renters of the mini-storage units, they're still going through their stuff to see how much damage each one of them has had," says John Huddle, Rockingham County Fire Marshall.
An insurance agent says that in incidents like the one where the storage facility was allegedly set on fire, individuals who had rental insurance may be able to recover what was lost.
"If it's covered, it should provide coverage for all of it unless there's specific things in there that would be excluded. Motorcycles and vehicles are not covered. Other things may be excluded as well, but you need to check with the agent to see if there's anything of unusual nature that might prevent coverage from applying," says Mark Thompson, a Rockingham Group insurance agent.
Thompson says one of the biggest misconceptions is that renters assume that, because the storage facility owner may have insurance on the building, their property is insured as well. However, that's usually not the case.
While some insurance policies cover some of the cost of what you may have lost, it's a different story for people who had no insurance at all on their property.
"You're going to suffer a great loss," says Thompson. "If you purchase insurance, it costs you a little bit up front, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run."
The insurance can be relatively inexpensive, sometimes for as little as $100 a year for about $10,000 worth of storage items. There is a chance, however, that you could have automatic coverage with your home owner's policy or renter's insurance, but you will need to double check with your provider.