Your garage door may represent a big gap in an effective home security strategy. Many garage doors are routinely left unsecured and older models may be of flimsy construction that’s easier for a burglar to pry or break than a solid-core front or back exterior door. Once inside an attached garage, a thief can close the door for concealment, then take his time gaining entry to the main house. Of course, since many homeowners utilize the garage as a household storage area, it often isn’t even necessary to break into the home itself to hit the jackpot. Plenty of attractive high-value items may be easily accessible in the garage alone. In some cases, thieves may even utilize your garage to back in a truck or van for extra convenience and cover while moving large valuables out of your home.
To strengthen this weak link in the chain of home security, here are six tips to make your garage burglar-proof:
• Don’t leave it open. Sure, it’s a no-brainer. But cruise through any residential neighborhood during the day and count how many garage doors you see standing wide open with nobody inside or even visible anywhere on the premises. Don’t fall for the “It can’t happen here” myth. Local law enforcement authorities can tell you that no neighborhood is immune to burglaries and theft.
• Cover the garage door windows or apply frosted window film. Don’t make it easy for thieves who want to peek into your garage to check for a vehicle parked inside—a sign that somebody’s home—or casually window-shop for valuables inside that they want to steal. Also pay attention to the status of the door leading from the garage into the house. This door should incorporate a wide-angle peephole—not a glass window—to make the garage fully visible from indoors without providing thieves with an easy break-in point and/or a way to see into the house. Also, make sure the door is fitted with a heavy deadbolt lock.
• Select a garage door opener that incorporates “rolling code” technology. This enhanced security automatically creates a new random remote code every time you open your door with the remote control. Because there are billions of possible codes, this feature makes it almost impossible for thieves utilizing common code-grabbing devices to defeat.
• Secure the garage door emergency release handle. Thieves frequently find it easy to reach the emergency release handle and open the door from the outside using nothing more than a bent coat hanger. Securing the handle with a single zip-tie or thin string makes it much more difficult to hook from outdoors, but still easy to pull indoors in case of an emergency.
• Close and latch overnight and when you leave town. When closing up for the night or if you’re going to be away from home for an extended period, don’t rely on simply closing your door with the opener. Go ahead and utilize the interior throw latch that manually locks the garage door track, physically securing the door so it can’t be raised. Most throw latches incorporate an opening so the latch can be padlocked in the closed position for added protection against break-in when you're out of town.
• Keep up with routine maintenance. Inspect the garage door annually for wear and tear in components that may make it easy to force open or otherwise defeat. Look for signs such as rust or corrosion, a gap where the door meets the garage floor (an easy pry point for thieves) or a track that has loosened from its mounting points.