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Burglar-Proof Your Garage Door

While an attached garage can be an incredible convenience for many homeowners, especially during winter when colder outdoor temperatures can leave car batteries sluggish or even dead, your attached garage may present a disadvantage when it comes to home security.

You may never dream of leaving your house or going to bed without locking your front door; unfortunately, some garage doors are so easy to open from the outside, it can be like leaving your front door standing open.

Fortunately, making your garage door safer doesn’t need to be an expensive or complicated process. Read on to learn how you can make your current garage door more burglar-proof, when you should upgrade your garage door for security reasons, and some other steps you can take to quickly, easily, and inexpensively reduce the risk that your home will be burgled.

Burglar-Proofing Your Garage Door

To adequately secure your garage door against would-be intruders, you need to understand how these burglars most commonly gain access and how to resolve the problem.

Gaps in the Garage

An older door that’s slightly off-track (or a foundation that’s settled and is no longer totally lining up with the bottom of the door) can create a large enough gap to allow entry.

If you can slip one or more fingers between the bottom of your garage door and the ground below, so can a burglar—and from this point, an intruder can simply lift the door up a foot or two and roll underneath. Depending on the age and condition of the door, this process can be nearly silent, giving you no warning that someone is within feet of the inside of your home.

Emergency Release Lever

Even if your door fits snugly against the ground, someone might still be able to open it from the outside. The emergency release lever, which works to operate the door when the power is out, can be fairly easily reached by shimmying a wire coat hanger or other thin lever through the side of the door.

Once a burglar has reached this lever, applying downward force will lift the door enough so that it can be completely opened from the outside.

One way to resolve both of these potential security weaknesses is to disable the emergency release lever that allows your door to be opened from the outside. This can be accomplished by simply uncoupling the cord or belt that holds the release lever to the top of the garage door.

While doing this will also prevent you from opening your door without using the motor (unless you temporarily reconnect the release lever), it will substantially improve the exterior security of your garage without cost or inconvenience.

Garage Windows

Finally, if your garage door has any windows, you’ll want to consider covering them with a stick-on film. These films can be inexpensively purchased at just about any home or garden supply store and allow light to filter into your garage without giving would-be burglars a peek at your car, tools, or other valuables.

While a determined burglar can still smash a garage door window in an attempt to gain access, most windows are too small (and high) to easily squeeze through, and a disabled emergency release lever will prevent the burglar from using the broken window to maneuver the door open.

Door Opener

As a final note of precaution, never leave your garage door opener in a visible spot. While many homeowners tend to place theirs on their sun visor for easy access, doing so could make your door opener vulnerable to theft in a smash-and-grab.

If you ever leave your car doors unlocked while making a quick trip into a gas station or supermarket, a thief may be long gone before you even notice your automatic door opener is missing.

When to Upgrade Your Door

One of the more chilling forms of garage door burglary involves the hacking of the automatic garage door opener. Many garage doors manufactured in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s use a fixed code to open the door. Newer garage doors utilize a rolling code, which changes the sequence of numbers used to open the door each time the automatic opener is triggered.

About a decade ago, enterprising hackers realized that a simple child’s toy could be easily and inexpensively modified to clone a fixed code garage door signal. This meant that anyone with this toy, sitting in range of the garage door at the time it was opened, could copy the code and immediately turn their toy into a fully-functional door opener.

With this cloned opener in hand, burglars are free to leave the area and return at a time they know the homeowner should be at work or sleeping. Within just a few seconds, they’re able to open the door (without setting off any security alarms) and close it behind them, giving them all the time they need to rummage through belongings or even break into the house through an interior door.

If your garage door is more than a couple of decades old, it may be time to upgrade to a model that uses a rolling code. Not only can a new garage door give your home more curb appeal, it can keep you (and your family) much safer from any intruders.

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