Teen buys storage units and returns items to owners

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. — It’s anything but storage wars for a teen who buys units at auction and then returns the contents to their rightful owners.

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Shane Jones, 16, turned his penchant for collecting secondhand items into acts of kindness when he started buying storage units during the coronavirus pandemic after watching some videos on social media about the process, WJAR reported.

“It’s just something fun to do. Doesn’t usually take up space. I focus on small stuff, bottles, coins, and I go to yard sales,” Jones said. “I metal detect. I like recovering things.”

He bought his first unit for $100 from a facility in Providence. At first, he planned to sell the items it contained, then he had an epiphany.

“I started off hoping to keep some of it and then throw out the rest, but then I realized this isn’t just something like yard sales where they gave it to me and sold it to me. This is where their stuff was taken because they couldn’t pay it,” said Jones. “There was mail and a lot of personal documents in a pile. That’s the time I realized this is not just junk. This is someone’s personal belongings that they lost.”

He was able to track down the former owner. When he was unable to find him, he reached out to the man’s mother, who was living in a nursing home. He offered her the belongings.

“It was a nice thing to do. It felt good,” said Jones.

Next, was a storage unit from Narragansett.

“It was actually a guy’s brother I connected with who had no idea his brother had a storage unit, and it had family heirlooms in it,” Jones said. “They were all very happy, especially the guy whose brother’s it was. He tried to offer me money, but I didn’t accept it. It was something to do, and it was nice.”

Most recently, he bought a unit in Johnstown.

“It was a woman from Connecticut. She fell on hard times, couldn’t get the stuff back, and most of the stuff was baby stuff,” said Jones. “Her baby passed away.”

The woman was very grateful to get back the items.

“I don’t mind doing this when I have the funds. It’s not mine. They didn’t purposely give it to me, so why let other people suffer as I succeed?”