Home Theft Protection: Secure Your Garage

Keep the bad guys out with these inexpensive but very effective fixes

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

Don't leave your remote in the car

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Fortify the service door

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.

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Scare away thieves with motion detector lights

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Cover windows to stop prying eyes

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Bar the windows to prevent break-ins

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.

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Disable the overhead door

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Keep the garage door closed

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Safety glasses
  • Socket/ratchet set
  • Wire stripper/cutter

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Keychain remote
  • Lock reinforcer
  • Heavy-duty strike plate
  • 3-in. screws
  • Motion detector lights
  • Window film
  • 1/2-in. steel pipe and Tee fittings
  • Padlock
  • Garage door timer