Most garage burglaries can be prevented by taking a few simple steps to secure and reinforce service doors, overhead doors and windows. All the strategies in this article are fast and cheap, and will really enhance your security.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:September 2009
Thieves know right where to look for your garage
door opener remote—clipped to the visor in your car. To
avoid giving them easy access to your garage, take the remote
with you when you leave the car. The handiest way to do this
is to replace your big remote with a small keychain version (sold at home centers or where you bought your garage door opener).
Match the remote to the brand and year of your opener. Then follow
the instructions for programming it.
If you’ve lost the remote for the garage door opener, it’s possible that it
has ended up in the wrong hands. To be safe, follow the instructions that
came with your opener to reset the code, disabling the lost remote.
Prevent the door from splitting by wrapping
it with a metal lock reinforcer. Mark
the edge of the door and chisel a shallow
recess so the reinforcer is flush to the
door's edge when it's installed.
Reinforce the weakest link on your
service door by installing a heavy-duty
strike plate with extra-long screws that
penetrate the framing at least 1 in.
Strengthen the hinge side of the door by replacing one of the screws in each hinge
with a 3-in.-long screw that penetrates the framing.
For a service door, the solution is to
install a good-quality dead bolt and
reinforce the doorjamb and hinges to
resist a brute-force attack. The best dead
bolts have an ANSI Grade 1 rating, but
even a Grade 2 lock will provide above-average
security. Look for the rating on
the package. But even the best dead bolt
won’t help if the doorjamb and door
aren’t reinforced. Before installing the
dead bolt, strengthen the lock area of
the door with a metal sleeve (Photo 1).
Then install a strong strike plate that’s
securely attached to the wall framing
with long screws (Photo 2). Heavy-duty
strike plates are available at home centers
and hardware stores.
Hinges that are installed with the
usual wimpy 3/4-in. screws are nearly
as easy to kick in as a wimpy door
latch. So while you’ve got the drill and
screws handy, remove one of the short
screws nearest the weather stripping
from each hinge and replace it with a
3-in. screw (Photo 3). If you have an
attached garage, use these same methods
to reinforce the door from the
garage into your house. Also make sure
to keep this door locked; otherwise, a
burglar who gains access to the garage can walk right in.
Replacing light fixtures with
ones that have a built-in motion detector
is an easy way to make your garage
and house more secure. Burglars will
be reluctant to jimmy open a door or
window when they're working under a
bright light. Or you can add a standalone
motion detector that connects to
your existing lights. If you live in a cold
climate, don't use compact fluorescent
bulbs in the light fixture. They take too
long to light in winter, giving thieves
To prevent burglars from “casing the
joint,” cover glass so they can’t “window
shop.” Use curtains, shades or
blinds. Or apply a translucent film to
the glass that obscures vision but still
lets in light. Plastic film like this is
available in several patterns from the window covering
department of home centers as well as
at full-service hardware stores and window
covering retailers. It’s also available
online (search for “privacy window
film”). Installation is simple.
Follow the instructions included with
the film you purchase.
Make your own window bars for a fraction of the cost of factory-made bars.
Bolt the bars to the frame with tees bolted in place by lag screws and washers.
If they can’t simply enter through an
open door, burglars will often try to
come through windows because most
are relatively easy to pry open or break.
Breaking a window is their last choice
because of the noise. Luckily it’s not
difficult to eliminate this chink in the
man-cave armor. First, make sure to
lock windows if possible. If you have
windows that you don’t open, screw
them shut. But for the ultimate window
security, add strong bars across the
window so that thieves can’t get in
even if they pry open the window or
break the glass.
Ready-made bars are available, but it’s
easier and cheaper to use a few lengths
of 1/2-in. steel pipe. Use either
precut and threaded pieces of 1/2-in.
steel pipe or measure for the lengths you
need and have the pipe cut and threaded
at the hardware store. Space bars
every 6 to 8 in. Get two
tees, two 3/8-in. washers
and two 3-1/2-in. x 3/8-in.
lag screws for each bar.
Thread a tee onto each end
of the pipes. Then attach
the pipes to the framing
by running a lag screw
through a washer, then
through the tee and into the framing.
When you go away on vacation, unplug
the garage door opener. If you don't
have an opener, padlock the latch or
disable the door by putting a bolt
through one of the holes in the garage
door track. This will prevent someone
from coming in through the overhead
door while you're away.
Leaving the garage door open is practically
an invitation to burglars, not to
mention that you’re really presenting a
storefront window display of your possessions
to anyone driving by. But if
you’re like a lot of other people and
tend to forget to close the door, or have
kids who forget, there’s an easy solution.
Install a device that signals your
garage door opener to close the door
after a predetermined amount of time. You
can set the amount of time that elapses
before the door closes, or override the
control if you want the door to remain
open. It takes about an hour to install
the sensors on the garage door track
and the keypad that connects to the
opener control. One more point: When
you’re leaving for work, don’t just hit
the remote button to close the door and
then drive away. Wait until it closes to make sure it doesn’t reopen.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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