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Is Your Garage Secure?

In April 2015, police in Hanford, Calif., responded to reports of several burglaries, in which thieves had gained access to homes via the garage. The criminals had broken into cars, stolen garage door remote openers then looked at vehicle registrations in the glove box to determine the location of victims’ homes.

Those crimes are a reminder that homeowners should never leave a garage door opener in their car in plain sight. Ideally, remote openers should be small enough to carry with you on a key ring or in your pocket. Following are a few more tips that can help you improve garage security.

Use strong keypad codes

If you have a keypad entry system for your garage, make sure the code isn’t easy to guess. Your birth date, your child’s birth date or the date of your wedding should never be used as a password, because thieves can easily find that information in public records, or even on your Facebook profile.

Secure the emergency release mechanism

Several videos online demonstrate how easy it is for burglars to break into a garage with a wire coat hanger. They straighten the hanger, leaving the hook on the end, and slip it through the gap between the top of a garage door and the doorframe to pull down on the emergency release lever. Securing that lever with an inexpensive zip tie protects your home against this threat.

Fortify the service door

Once a thief is inside a garage, getting into a home is usually easy – especially if the thief has access to tools inside the garage. Fortify the door leading from your garage to your home by using at least one 3-inch screw in each hinge, securing it firmly to the framing. Add a heavy-duty strike plate and a lock re-enforcer that prevents the door from splitting.

Replace the garage door

A new steel garage door is unlikely to draw the attention of thieves, because they need to be able to break in quickly. An older door that looks rusted, dented or weakened in some other way would be a more likely target.

Use precaution when traveling

If you’re going to be away from home, don’t announce your travel plans publicly. Ask a trusted friend or family member to stop by your home periodically to collect mail and rotate which interior lights are turned on. And if your garage door has a slide-lock, make sure to engage that before you leave town.

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