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I-Team: Storage Facility Fears

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
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BOSTON (CBS) – Storage auctions are some of the most popular shows on cable right now, but there is a dark side to these facilities. The I-Team found criminals and terrorists are using them to hide their activities.

Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve explains why police feel the law isn’t on their side when it comes to keeping people safe from what’s going on behind those metal doors.

It might be old kitchen furniture, or yes, even a stuffed cow. Hit shows like Storage Wars draw millions of viewers and the attention of frustrated Police Chiefs like Joe Ferreira of Somerset.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

“No one ever asks the question, when they are buying the storage bins that people don’t claim and they are buying it for $200 and there’s $3,000 of merchandise, ‘where is this stuff coming from?’ It’s coming from everybody’s house in the area, stolen goods, there are drugs, there’s money!”

The chief adds once, “We found one million in cash!”

Storage facilities have popped up everywhere in recent years often filled with harmless junk.

But increasingly, criminals are using them as havens for illegal activities, knowing police will have a hard time tracking down someone who didn’t even have to give their real name to get a key.

District Attorney Gerry Leone says crooks know where to stash stuff.

“Absolutely, you know people who will do bad things have shown over history to know where the loopholes are, we’ve seen that in the area of terrorism over and over again.”

For example, right here in our own backyard. A Framingham Storage facility was used by a man with alleged ties to Al Qaida as he worked on an elaborate scheme to blow up the Pentagon.

Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland planned to use remote controlled planes packed with explosives to smash into the nation’s defense hub. Most of his work took place inside that Framingham storage bin away from the eye of law enforcement.

That’s a problem according to Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes. He’s even found bodies in storage bins — but says his hands are tied when it comes to launching an investigation.

“There seems to be currently an existing gap in the state of the law by which individuals can rent this facility, rent or lease these storage facility and they don’t have to provide any true identification.”

That’s what happened with Ferdaus in Framingham. He rented his storage bin under a false name, and didn’t give an address, claiming he was homeless.”

State Senator James Timilty chairs the Public Safety Committee. He’s filed a bill which would require storage facilities to check for a valid ID, maintain a registry with the renter’s vital information and allow police to have easier access to bins.

Because as the Senator sees it, “What’s behind the door, often times isn’t’ an antique.”

If you think there is an issue the I-Team should investigate, you can contact them at iteam@wbztv.com

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