The last thing most people do before heading off to bed for the night is to double check that all of their doors are locked. For most this ritual provides a crucial peace of mind. And while locking your doors is always good practice, you could batten down the hatches like you’re securing Fort Knox and still possibly forget one crucial security vulnerability almost every home has: The Garage.
To a potential burglar, a garage can offer a variety of ways to easily enter your home. In fact, according to a recent survey, some 9% of burglars break into a home through the garage. And doing so doesn’t often require any high-tech tools on the part of thieves. Some have been known to infiltrate a garage with only a simple coat hanger and the right opportunity.
Garage Security is Home Protection
A good place to start to secure your garage is to check for weak points that a burglar may try to exploit to enter your home. By adding layers of security, such as a lock or alarm to the door itself and by securing any other entries to your garage, you are on your way to deterring would-be thieves.
Want some more ideas? Never fear, Garage Junkies! We’ve got a solid list for you!
Some Common Garage Vulnerabilities
A truly determined burglar may be able to defeat almost any security systems you put in place. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put up a good fight! No security regime is going to be foolproof but the best defense is an alert and savvy homeowner who remains diligent about their home security by assessing and keeping things up to date and in good repair.
With that in mind, here are some common garage security flaws to be on the lookout for:
1. Your Garage Door’s Release Lever
If your garage door has a release lever with a cord that hangs down for easy access, this will give the same easy access to any potential thief savvy enough to know how to exploit this security flaw. And as we mentioned above, this exploit can be accomplished with no specialized tools or gear. It only requires something as simple as a wire coat hanger. The good news is, there are ways to counter-act this type of intruder (see below). (And no. We won’t tell you how it works, but to see how frightfully fast and simple this process can be, watch this video.)
2. Exposed Hinges and Locks
This one is pretty self-explanatory, if you can easily access any hinges or locks that lead into your garage, any burglar with a lock pick and a little determination will be able to access your garage with minimal effort. Fixes for this issue will vary, but there are a wide range of internal solutions that can help keep your garage’s locks safe from tampering and provide an additional physical barrier.
3. Use of an Un-Motorized Garage Door
While rarer these days than they used to be, an un-motorized garage door (one that can’t be opened or closed remotely) can be a security risk due to their general lack of automatic locking features. A motorized door has a few downsides of their own (see vulnerability #1) but all in all they are a much safer choice if you are looking for another reason to upgrade your manual garage door (other than hating having to get out of your car to open it every time, that is).
4. Overgrown Landscaping
At first blush this may seem more like a complaint for your gardener (which may be a complaint to yourself if you’re the one who does the landscaping . . .) but in actuality, overgrown shrubs or trees around your garage can be a major safety risk. Many thieves will look for overgrown greenery as a source of cover from prying eyes as they try to case or break into your garage. The solution to this security flaw is to simply pull out some clippers and get to hacking away at your overgrown bushes until your garage door is plainly visible from all angles.
5. Unsecured Windows
Some home security experts will tell you that unless all of your first-floor windows aren’t secured with window bars, you’re basically begging for someone to smash them in order to gain entry to your home. And while they aren’t necessarily wrong, many homeowners will still find the look of bars on their windows too reminiscent of a county jail. Luckily, there are plenty of options for your garage windows that can provide protection with minimal visual impact. We will detail a few below.
Simple and Effective Ways to Secure Your Garage
Now that we are aware of some common garage weaknesses, let’s take a look at some possible solutions. While not every solution will be perfect for your particular situation, all of the below tips will help secure your garage, and in turn help keep you and your family safe from potential crime.
1. Install a Garage Door Opener Shield
The easiest way to keep someone from using your garage door’s release lever to gain access to your home is to install a shield in front of it. This is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix that will flummox most would be criminals. This garage shield comes with all the pieces required to mount it and can be easily installed in a matter of minutes by hand.
2. Monitor Your Garage Door with an Alarm
You may be tempted to hook up your garage to an online security system, but there can be hidden dangers when you connect your security apparatus to the “Internet of Things.” To avoid possible hacking (and save money in the process) a simple alarm attached to your garage door will alert you to openings and closings and should be plenty loud enough to discourage any unauthorized entry. This alarm works great for windows as well.
3. If Yours is Manually Operated, Install a Garage Door Lock
If you don’t want to upgrade to a motorized garage door opener, at least consider upgrading to a handle that locks. This handle will lock your garage door from the outside and is easy to install.
4. Invest in Some Inside Door Jams
Most any lock can be picked, and once they are inside, a thief will have free range of your home. Hinges left exposed can be a security weakness as well. This is when additional physical barriers on the inside of your garage (and its own door into your home) can be perfect compliment. Some good options include this “lock locker” which will keep your deadbolt from turning, even if someone is trying to use a key!
Other physical barriers include portable security bars (great for their ability to be tucked away when not in use) and metal door braces (which are more permanent in nature).
5. Install Motion Detecting Lighting Fixtures
If you are looking for our recommendations on the best security lighting to use in and around the garage, be sure to check out our full article on the subject here! But in short, adding a quality motion detecting light fixture to your garage is a simple and effective way to help deter break-ins.
6. Frost Your Garage Windows
Obscuring your windows is a good way to keep would be robbers from smashing them in order to gain entry to your home. This is because a thief is much less likely to break a window if they are unsure of what could possibly be on the other side. Simple privacy film (like this roll available on Amazon) will be cheap and easy to install.
7. Don’t Leave Your Garage Door Opener in Your Car!
Our last tip won’t cost you a thing, just remember never to leave your garage door opener in your car! This may seem like simple advice, but in your glovebox or attached to your sunshade will be one of the first places a thief will look. It is much better to get in the habit of taking your garage door remote with you and stored inside your house when you aren’t using it.
(Still want more? Read here for more in-depth ideas!)
Securing your garage is important, but it needn’t be an expensive or laborious process. Some simple awareness and a few new tools can add the layers of security you need. Truly, there are no excuses for putting off your garage security project any longer! Best of all, when you know you’ve done everything you can to keep your garage, home, and family safe, you’ll finally be able to rest easy at night. (But no promises that you won’t still occasionally get out of bed to make sure all the doors are locked one last time!)
Thanks for reading, and as always, be sure to keep it tuned to The Garage Junkie for all of your garage’s FYI and DIY needs!