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Can Burglars Open Garage Doors?

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T here’s nothing new in a thief using the garage door to get access inside the house, and, even if this has become harder to do due to the advancements made in technology, it doesn’t mean that it has turned impossible. As a matter of fact, there’s still a high number of robberies reported where the garage has been used as an entry point.

This happens because most people don’t pay this door the attention they pay to other access points in their home. Sometimes it isn’t repaired or replaced on time, so it just gets more and more vulnerable. An old unit that has started to rust doesn’t oppose the same resistance as a well-cared one. In other cases, the owners are careless, forgetting to lock the garage or leaving the remote in their car, once again without locking it.

And, if you have never had to do with thieves, you should note that they don’t act on instinct. Remember the burglars in Home Alone? They spent weeks watching the neighborhood, learning people’s habits, one of them even got inside the house of the McCallisters dressed as a police officer to get more information. So you can bet they won’t hit at night but in the middle of the day when you are on vacation.

It’s time to learn how they do it and what you can do to protect yourself, so keep reading for precious information that can help you keep your home secure.

What is the system behind a garage door opener? Is it complicated to install and use? Find out all the details in our article.

A thief carrying a crowbar and hading towards a house at night Image

Are Garage Doors Easy to Break Into?

Some classic methods have been used since people started building garages and locking them. Many of them imply planning, although occasional impulse robberies can happen. If you’ve forgotten to close the garage, and your belongings just lay exposed, shining in the sun, the chances of them being stolen are high.

Nevertheless, most thieves are not interested particularly in what they can find in the garage but in the chance it offers for them to get inside the house. So, they will plan and plan. On the day of the theft, they will be sure you are not at home, your more attentive neighbors won’t be at home, and the thieves will already have discovered all the vulnerabilities.

  • If your door is old, they will also pick an old method, namely to destroy the only lock available. They may drill right through it or cut it out. Another liability present in the older models is the gap that usually appears between the frame and the door. It is enough for the intruders to use a crowbar to mess with the lock and gain access.
  • Even modern doors, however, can be exposed to risks, and you would be surprised how easy it is to get through the protection system of an automated model. An experiment showed that in only 6 seconds the thief can be in your garage. And they will only need a hanger. How does this happen? Automated doors come with an emergency release lever, which can be pulled to open the door in case a power outage or other malfunction occurs. This feature was designed to be accessed from the interior, but it seems that somebody from the exterior can access it as well.

    To put it short, the intruder can reach with the hanger through a small opening between the door and the frame and pull down the red string attached to the lever. At this point, the door doesn’t need any code to open as it has just been shifted to manual operations, so the thief will use their hand to lift it. It is an incredibly quiet method, this is why it is used extensively today.

When garage door openers were introduced, there was a problem regarding the code generated by the system, which used to remain the same for each use. Thieves could intercept it through radio waves, and this became the trend for garage burglaries at the time. Nevertheless, meanwhile, these systems evolved, and today use rolling codes and other technologies that make it practically impossible for thieves to pick up the codes anymore.

Using a zip tie to secure a garage door emergency release lever Image

How Can You Make Your Garage Door More Secure?

Now that you have seen how easy it is to get robbed, it’s time to take action. Living in fear will not do you any good, but installing supplementary protection equipment will help you sleep at night and enjoy your vacations. And, as you are about to find out, sometimes an efficient protection element can cost you only $5.

Here is some advice:

Check your doors

It goes without saying that, before installing any security system, you should make sure that the problem isn’t with the object it needs to protect. Thus, if you know your doors are old, make time for a rigorous inspection. Check for rust or rot. Also, check if they are balanced and can roll easily. If you consider it necessary, invest some money in repairs or replace them. This time you can pick a sliding model, which has proven to be the most secure of all.

Check out this article about standard garage door sizes and learn how to measure your opening and get the correct model. You will also find information about door types and how each of them works.

Use a zip tie to secure the emergency release lever

As mentioned, this is the most popular robbery method today. The good news, though, is that getting your door safe is just as easy as it is for the burglars to unlock it. All you need is a cheap set of zip ties that won’t cost you more than 5 dollars. Thus, you can zip tie the lever, blocking it for intruders. And, if you ever need to use it in case your door won’t open automatically, you can just use a scissor to cut it. When the problem is solved, just tie another one and stay protected.

Is your garage door opener too old? It’s time for an upgrade

New models no longer deal with the code problem. Today, you have systems that generate a new code every time you access the door, shortening their time of use so hackers don’t get the chance to redirect or delay them. Thus, it is almost impossible for your neighbor to use the same code generated for your system, so they will no longer be able to accidentally open your garage. Moreover, even if robbers manage to intercept the code, it will be useless to them, as the system will require a new one the next time.

Check out our best garage door openers and make an idea about the features and functions they offer. Some of them come with extra protection options like alerts or alarms.

Go even further. Go smart

Even with all the defense measures, if the thieves are determined and find a good moment, you can still get robbed. But not if you get alerted on time. Some openers come with WiFi capabilities, which means that you can pair them with your phone. Thus, you can know at any moment when the garage door is open or closed. You can even control it from the distance.
If an intruder somehow manages to hack your system or manually opens the door, you will receive a notification. At this point, you can ask a neighbor who’s at home to check the premises and call the cops if they discover any suspicious activity.

See our in-depth review of LiftMaster 8500 Wall Mount. This is a smart product that doesn’t only offer full control over door movements but allows you to operate the lights from the distance and scare the thieves away.

Frosted garage windows Image

Don’t allow the thieves to peek inside

They will use your garage windows to inspect if the car is inside and, thus, check if you are at home. Moreover, they can look for an entry into your home and make a mental note to help them on the day of the burglary.

You can install blinds or covers, or pick frosted windows, which will allow the light to get in but won’t give anybody the chance to make an inventory of what is happening inside.

Never leave your remote control lying around

It may seem comfortable to leave it in the car. But imagine this situation. You are out and ready to go to work. You unlock your car. But then remember that you have forgotten something inside. It only takes to minutes to get that thing so you think no one can steal something from your vehicle, but it is more than enough for an experienced thief to get the remote. If you have already closed the garage, you may not even notice it is gone until you return home in the evening. To find your valuables stolen and your house torn apart.

This is a nightmare scenario, but it has happened before. So, always keep the remote with you. Or purchase a remote opener that is cheap and can be attached to the keychain.

Learn more about garage door security in this article. You will soon understand that there’s no concept called over securing. It is just the thing you need to do to protect your family and your property.

Set up a security system

Although this investment will make you get some extra money out of your pocket, it is the safest method in these situations. You can set up cameras and get them streaming on your phone. You can also set an alarm to sound if somebody is trying to force their entry. Moreover, a good idea would be to install better lighting and keep them on overnight. No thief is fool enough to get so exposed.

A phone showing the Chamberlain app Image

How to Pick a Garage Door Opener for Security

Today, most Americans have opted for automatic garage doors, so the robbers need to do more than drill through a flimsy lock. In this case, the one offering protection is the opener, as it is responsible for keeping the door shut and locked.

Nonetheless, not all units are equipped with the latest protection features, so you will want to pay attention when selecting one.
Here are the options that are considered mandatory for good protection:

  • Dependable brand – It isn’t enough to make your door automatic, you must make sure you can rely on your unit. Thus, we recommend picking a trusty model offered by a renowned company like Chamberlain, LiftMaster, Genie, or Craftsman.
  • Rolling code – All the brands from above have equipped their units with this method that prevents thieves from finding out your code and use it.
  • Posi Lock – The opener will mechanically lock your door, but this feature allows for electronic locking as well. If an intruder manages to open the door, it will reverse the action and keep it shut.
  • Smart features – The unit must be able to connect to WiFi in order to send alerts in case the door is opened without your authorization. Some companies, like Chamberlain, for example, provide kits to turn your unit smart if you have an older one.
  • Additional defense technologies – Rolling code is the rule in the industry, but many brands choose the include additional patented security options, so look for them.

Chamberlain PD762EV is a good example of what you should choose. It uses MyQ technology to connect to a phone and is equipped with first-rate defense functions.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, what we all want is to go to bed knowing that our home is protected. We check the yard and lock the doors, maybe activate an alarm. But we should never forget about the garage. There’s a reason for which thieves pick it as their favorite access point, and it is usually our fault.

As you have seen, sometimes all it takes is to buy a 5-dollar zip tie bag and block the intruders out. But if you live in a more troublesome neighborhood, other investments may be necessary. Get yourself a smart door opener and install cameras and alarms. Your days will be less stressful once you know your home is safe.

Trystan Jensen
Trystan Jensen
Trystan is a trusted reviewer who has extensive experience in customer satisfaction gained while he worked as a market research analyst. He is well aware of what consumers want, as well as what they expect the most from the acquisitions they make. It is his personal interest in technologies that help improve life quality combined with his attentiveness to detail and customer experience that make Trystan an unending source of qualitative content.