Man accused of breaking into St. Johns County self-storage facility, stealing firearms

Deputies: Alan Lawson caught on camera breaking into units at Palm Valley Road facility on several different occasions in June

Man accused of breaking into St. Johns County self-storage facility, stealing firearms
Man accused of breaking into St. Johns County self-storage facility, stealing firearms

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A Jacksonville man is accused of trespassing, breaking into several units and stealing items, including money and firearms, from a St. Johns County self-storage facility.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Alan Lawson, 37, was caught on camera breaking into the Atlantic Self Storage on Palm Valley Road on several different occasions in June.

According to warrants served, Lawson broke into the facility just before 1 a.m. June 9 and was caught on camera just before 2:30 a.m. using a pair of bolt cutters to gain access to unit 2121. The warrants said Lawson entered the unit three separate times before leaving the area. Deputies said he gained access into 2291 just after 3 a.m. and, minutes later, he picked the lock of unit 2284 and spent about 19 minutes inside that unit. Utilizing a pair of bolt cutters, deputies said, Lawson gained access to unit 1060 and went inside. Hours later, according to the warrants, Lawson entered the main office of Atlantic Self Storage and proceeded to crouch behind the desk while speaking with an unknown person on a cellphone. Deputies said he looked through multiple filing cabinets and drawers before he proceeded into the back room of the office for about six minutes, took an Atlantic Self Storage T-shirt and put it on before leaving the back room. Just before 7:30 a.m., according to the warrants, Lawson opened a lockbox and stole about $200.

Just before 4:30 a.m. June 10, according to the warrants, Lawson entered the facility wearing black gloves and carrying a backpack. Just before 5 a.m., the warrants said, Lawson used a lock pick to break into unit 2259. Deputies said he attempted to break into four additional units but was not successful. Minutes later, according to the warrants, he broke into units 2207 and 2219 using a lock pick. From one of the units, he stole a large black case, deputies said. The victim stated a compound bow with accessories totaling $1,200 were stolen. Lawson also burglarized unit 2229, stealing a generator, deputies said.

Days later, warrants show, Lawson was caught on camera just before 12:30 a.m. June 15. Deputies said he was seen picking the locks to units 1120 and 1064 but was not successful. Hours later, according to the Sheriff’s Office, Lawson was seen carrying two firearms cases that came from unit 1074. The victim stated four firearms were stolen from his unit. The victim said the gun safe was forced open by an ax, and two handguns were stolen from that safe. Minutes later, according to the Sheriff’s Office, Lawson was seen picking the lock of units 2211 and 2213.

When News4Jax recently stopped by the facility, management referred News4Jax to corporate. As of Sunday, News4Jax had not received a response back.

Lawson is charged with seven third-degree felonies, one first-degree felony, one second-degree misdemeanor and one first-degree misdemeanor. He was booked Thursday into the St. Johns County jail, where he remained as of Sunday on $132,000 bond, according to online jail records.

If convicted, News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said, Lawson could be “looking at a lot of time in prison.”

Jefferson said it is legal to properly secure firearms in a self-storage unit. He offered some tips for people to keep in mind when picking a self-storage facility:

  • Buy a really good lock.
  • Provide insurance for your valuable
  • Make sure the facility is clean, well lit and has surveillance cameras and access codes. In some instances, management on-site serves as an additional layer of security.

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