Reporter: Aaron Brackett
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - This is what can happen if you don't pay your storage bill. Now made into a popular TV series, these storage snatchers are hoping to score a big payday from what's in your past due storage locker.
In Tucson, a different group of regulars and new-comers do the same thing. They bid on the contents of storage units where the owners stopped paying.
Anthony Sabory considers himself a regular, now in his fourth year of storage bidding.
"Basically you have a lot of people out here trying to rip each other's heads off," Sabory said. "Everybody wants so many units and today there are only eight, and there will only be eight people out of fifty or sixty people, it's kind of like a lottery pick. You gotta come out here with money and be willing to get what you want for your product."
Several dozen people gather hoping to get a crack at storage units up for auction. Next, the door goes up and bidders look in, but under the rules they can't step inside. Four to five minutes later, the rubbernecking ends and the bidding war begins.
Paul Guiffrey emerged as winner for a locker with a top bid of $550. He said he made "a good score at this one" and, along with his wife, immediately began pouring over his new property. From the furniture and smaller nick-nacks, he expects to double his investment of 550 dollars.
David Lightfoot is the manager of Continental Ranch Self Storage in Marana. He says he dislikes holding the auctions.
"I don't like doing them because we're auctioning off people's personal property," Lightfoot said. "We don't have them very often, we work with people, even if they can't pay the whole amount, they pay 50 percent or something."
In one of the lockers auctioned, it didn't take long for some very personal items to pop up.
Photographs found were worthless to the new owner Bonnie Guiffre. She is very aware that what's trash to her may be treasure to the past owner and she didn't have the heart to simply throw this memorabilia out.
"This is what we were talking about, personal stuff that you find, you just go ahead and bring it up to them or leave it in the storage locker, if it's a lot, we just leave it in the storage locker," Guiffre explained.
Management at the facility said it makes an attempt to return personal items such as photos, certificates and other objects that may have sentimental value.
It's not the trash that keeps bidders coming back, it's the hope for treasure.
Anthony Sabori is one of those hoping that he will hit it big soon.
"I did find some interesting things. I got scuba gear, a DJ system that I got for two hundred dollars, sold it for seventeen," Sabori said. "You find a lot of good things like that. I even got some Degrazia portraits that I sold for 500 dollars at auction, a little money here or there, but I haven't hit anything big yet, but I will eventually."
Those hopes fuel this business where behind every door someone stands a chance of making a fortune -- from someone else's misfortune.
According to Tim Shaw, the auctioneer at KGUN9's filming, attendance has doubled since the launch of the A&E show "Storage Wars".
The bidders 9OYS talked to said this has driven up prices substantially, and while owners of the past due storage units have until the auction to pay their past due rent, none showed up at our auction.