KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia State Police have released two pictures of a vehicle they say is involved in what appears to be an attempted break in at a local storage unit facility.
Investigators said it happened a few weeks at WV Storage's Elkview facility. Troopers say a man pulled up in a dark green Jeep SUV. They say he got out and proceeded to cut the locks off 17 storage units.
The owner of the business is now speaking out in hopes that someone will recognize the suspect's vehicle, eventually leading to an arrest.
"When something like this happens, it hurts me as well as them," WV Storage Owner Lyn Wilcher said, "because I've let them down and that's not a good feeling."
Wilcher is now working with West Virginia State Police to track down whoever is responsible.
"This isn't just my property," Wilcher said, "it's all of my customers property. They pay us to put their valuables here and we try to operate a safe and secure facility for them."
Wilcher says about a week after the locks were cut, the suspect showed up again.
"He cut one lock off, got back in his vehicle and left," Wilcher said. "He never lifted the door. He never took anything. He was there for 45 seconds."
"That was one of the same units that was part of the 17 units that had the locks cut off the week prior," Wilcher said. "So, it was the same person who came back and just cut one unit."
West Virginia State Police are now following up on several leads and possible suspects. Investigators say the suspect or suspects are most likely from the Elk River Road or Clendenin area.
Wilcher says he and other owners of self storage facilities have noticed an increase in break-ins recently. He's even noticed a new trend where thieves will cut locks off storage units and put their own locks back on. He says that allows the criminals to steal items from the storage units in broad daylight looking like a regular customer.
Wilcher says storage unit renters can protect themselves by investing in disc locks, which he says are much harder to cut than regular locks.
"It takes longer," Wilcher said. "That tends to act as a deterrent to someone who just wants to come in and cut a lock and get in and get out."
If you have any information on this investigation, you're urged to call West Virginia State Police.