Is your garage door an easy entrance?
Most homeowners close the overhead garage door and assume they’ve locked out bad guys. And they’re mostly correct; a garage door connected to an opener is pretty secure. But there are a few ways that crooks might get through your door. This article will show you how they do it—and how to stop them.
Push and probe
By pushing the door inward to create a gap at the top, a crook can insert a wire hook and fish for the release. Some use a wedge to hold the gap open.
Hook and pull
Once the cord is hooked, all it takes is a good yank to disconnect the door from the opener. On some models, hooking the release lever works too.
Make a shield
A shield makes grabbing the release cord almost impossible. This shield is simply a wood cleat and a scrap of plywood screwed to the opener’s arm. The plywood is fastened to the cleat with just two brad nails, so it can break away— rather than do damage—if it runs into something while the door is traveling.
Add a tie
If your trolley has a pair of holes, you can lock the release with a small plastic tie. Use the smallest tie you can find. It will be strong enough to resist the tug of a fishing wire but will break away with a hard pull on the release cord.
Every garage door opener has an emergency release that disconnects the door from the opener. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to open the door when the opener is on the fritz. But some clever crooks have turned this essential feature into a security risk.
“Fishing” a garage door isn’t exactly easy, and in some situations it’s almost impossible. Some openers, for example, have a release mechanism that must be pulled straight down and won’t release if the cord is tugged at an angle toward the door. Others are a bit easier to fish, especially if your garage door has a window that allows the crook to see what he’s doing.
Don’t forget to close the door
Garage door sensor
The sensor sends a signal to the monitor, telling you whether the door is open or closed.
Garage door monitor
The monitor receives the signal from the sensor, and displays whether the garage door is open or closed. Sensors and monitors are battery-operated—no wiring is required.
Automatic door closer
This device allows the door to stay open for a set amount of time, then closes it. You set the timer and can override it on those summer days when you’re working in the garage.
Lots of times garage security is undermined simply because someone forgot to close the door. A garage door monitor is a good reminder. Just stick the sensor to the door and set the monitor in a conspicuous spot like your nightstand. To find a monitor, search online for “garage door monitor.” The brand of your door or opener doesn’t matter; any monitor will work.
An automatic door closer provides even more security, since it closes the door whether you’re home or not. Installation requires some simple low-voltage wiring and takes less than an hour. To find one, search online for “automatic garage door closer.”
5 more ways to lock out crooks
1. Beef up the service door. The walk-through entry door (called the “service door”) is the No. 1 security weak spot in most garages. It should be equipped with a dead bolt and a heavy-duty strike plate, just like any other exterior door in your house.
2. Lock the entry door. If you have an attached garage, lock the entry door that leads into the house. Too many homeowners rely on the service door and leave the entry door unlocked.
3. Cover windows. If crooks can’t see the tools and toys in your garage, they won’t be motivated to get in. Sheer curtains or translucent window film lets in light but keeps valuables out of sight.
4. Add lighting. Bright lighting makes burglars nervous and just might make them go elsewhere. Motion detector lighting is better than on-all-night lighting because it saves energy when it’s off and attracts attention when it’s on.
Video: 3 Places to Hide Valuables at Home
Don’t keep the clicker in your car
Keep your opener with your keys
It’s simple: If you take your garage door opener with you, thieves can’t steal it from your car. A keychain remote just makes sense.
A thief who breaks into your car can grab the remote for easy access to your garage. This isn’t just a problem when your car is parked in the driveway; the registration card in your glove box gives a crook your address.
So get rid of the remote on your visor and buy a keychain remote. You can easily take it with you every time you leave the car. Home centers stock only a small selection of remotes, but you’ll find more online. Start your search by typing in the brand of your opener, followed by “remote.”
High-security, high-tech opener
All the bells and whistles
This is a Chamberlain’s MyQ opener. It has a built-in monitor, automatic close, lighting controls and a smartphone connection. It’s relatively inexpensive, especially considering all the features you’d have to buy if you were just adding them on.
One way to protect your garage is to choose an opener with built-in security features.
No more getting out of bed to make sure the door is closed. A monitor placed anywhere in your home tells you whether the door is open or closed. Unlike the add-on monitor system shown earlier, monitors for openers with built-in sensors can come equipped with a button that closes the door remotely.
When you forget to close the door, this opener does it for you. As with the system shown earlier, you can adjust the open time or override the self-closing feature. Unlike that system, it can be built right into your opener.
The opener itself has two bulbs, but it can also switch on lamps or fixtures, inside your home or out. The lights can switch on when the opener operates, or you can use the remote to flip them on independently of the opener.
From anywhere on earth, you can make sure the door is closed or open it to let in the plumber. Better yet, the opener can send a notification when the door opens so you know exactly when your teenager got home last night.
Lock up the overhead door
Lock the track
If your door doesn’t have a lockable latch, drill a hole in the track just above one of the rollers and slip in a padlock.
Some people “lock” the door when they go on vacation by unplugging the opener. That’s a good idea, but physically locking the door is even better. An unplugged opener won’t prevent fishing, and—if you have an attached garage—it won’t stop a burglar who has entered through the house from opening the garage door from inside, backing in a van and using the garage as a loading dock for his plunder. Make a burglar’s job more difficult and time-consuming by locking the door itself.
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- Brad nail gun
- Drill bits, metal and wood
- Drill/driver - cordless
- Lineman's pliers
- Safety glasses
- Utility knife
- Voltage tester
- 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.
- 6-inch x 12-inch piece of plywood
- Brad nails
- Low voltage wire
- Wire nuts
- Wire tie