Every 15 seconds, a home in the U.S. is broken into. While most intruders go through the front door, there are a significant number of burglars who break in through the garage.
In October, criminals in Las Vegas broke into the garage of a police officer’s home. They stole the officer’s unmarked white metro police cruiser, which contained a gun, police radio, tactical vest, Taser — even police uniforms.
Obviously, the police want to catch these people and get that stuff off the streets. But the reality is this might not have happened if people took their garage security more seriously.
Since criminals often use garage doors as an easy way to access a home, here are five garage security measures I recommend putting in place:
1) Never leave the door opener in your car.
Many people park their cars in the driveway and then open the garage door with the clicker to get inside. Thieves will look to see if you’ve left the opener in your car and use it to get into your home. Breaking into a car is easy and if they can find a garage door opener they can get into your home in seconds. If you tend to leave your opener in your car, you may want to switch to a key fob opener that you can attach to your keychain.
2) Secure the door that leads into your home.
Of course, having your garage broken into is frustrating enough, but if burglars also manage to access your home, you are in for a big mess. I’m always shocked when I see people who have the best deadbolts on their front door and a cheap lock on their garage door. You’ve heard me mention you should use quality locks like Schlage and Medeco on your exterior doors. Frankly, you should use them on your garage door as well. In addition, consider a product like Nightlock. This doorstopper security device will make it more difficult for a criminal to kick in your door.
3) Cover any windows.
If you have windows that allow someone to see into your garage, I strongly recommend always keeping them covered. Not only do windows allow criminals to see what valuable items are inside, but they also make it easy for a criminal to gauge if anyone is home. Whether you have windows on the garage door or on the side of your home that look into the garage, make sure they are adequately covered.
4) Secure the safety mechanism.
All automatic garage doors are legally required to have a release mechanism you can pull that allows you to lift the garage door in an emergency. Since this is for safety, it’s not something I recommend removing. However, criminals often use coat hangers to reach through the seal around your garage door and pull the emergency release. Once they do this, they can simply lift the garage door and walk right in. What you can do is use a zip tie, put it through the release mechanism and attach it to the pull cord. Make sure to test this contraption and confirm that you can pull the cord and break the zip tie in an emergency. Basically, you want to make it so it’s not easy for criminals to pull the release but you still want to be able to do it yourself if you have to.
5) Padlock the door when you’re out of town.
If you go out of town (or don’t use your garage regularly), you should consider using a padlock to secure the garage door. Depending on the age of your garage door, you can place a padlock on the track of the door, which will keep it from moving. Of course, this isn’t something I recommend doing all the time since it’s a pain to constantly remove the padlock, but it’s a good solution if you won’t be using your garage door for a while.
Of course, these are year-round security considerations. But if you plan on traveling for the holidays — and especially if you get any new and expensive loot for Christmas — make sure to take the proper precautions to secure your garage, since it’s one of the easiest ways for criminals to gain access to your home.