My wife and I recently purchased a new home. It is in a gated community, with a mountain and a canal to the back of the house. Honestly, with the scenic views and quaint neighborhood, security was not at the forefront of my mind. But just a few short months after we moved in, that mindset changed. It was an eye-opening experience that, thankfully, was just a reminder to be aware and not a tragic event. But this event made me realize the necessity of securing your garage.
To secure your garage, take steps that are simple to implement and are easy to engage and disengage so they become a habit and not something you dread. Take time to secure your emergency release cord so it cannot be hooked and pulled from outside the garage door. It is also helpful to check the condition of your garage door and side entry, reinforce your side entry door, and tint or frost your garage windows. Adding deterrents like security cameras, motion-sensing lights, and an alarm can make your garage, and home, less of a desired target.
Friday morning at 4:45 AM my alarm went off for work. This is my pre-alarm, so I know I have 15 more minutes of shut-eye. (My wife hates this alarm because it wakes her up too, but that’s neither here nor there.) Just after I got up to turn off the alarm, I heard banging on the front door. Only partially awake I scurried through the house to see what was going on.
Just as I was getting to the front door and peering through the peephole, I heard another series of bangs on the door. I looked out and I saw three cops standing in my front yard. I immediately knew something was up and I opened the door to try to greet them. I am sure it was a sight to see; one eye open, hair sticking up, brain trying to put cognitive sentences together, all while trying to find a missing shoe.
As I walked out the door, the cops explained that there had been several break-ins in my little community, and sadly I had made the list. In this case, it had been my fault the car was rummaged through – I forgot to lock it the night before. My wife and I do not keep anything of value in the car, so I wasn’t too worried that we lost anything terribly important. A smash and grab would leave the culprit disappointed. But as the cop went on and I walked towards my vehicle, we also noticed that the garage door was open. This immediately changed my level of alarm.
We have an attached garage and on the other side of that locked fire door was my kids’ bedrooms. Thank God they were on the other side of a locked door but WAYYYY too close for comfort. Now, my saws, tools, chisels, jigs, and the like were all in jeopardy. But honestly, though, the possessions are meaningless to me, compared to having my family safe.
Thankfully, nothing was found missing or stolen from the car or from the garage. It must have been some punk looking for a quick grab. But this incident heightened my awareness of how important it is to increase the security of one’s home by securing your garage. With this, I started researching how to best secure your garage, and this is what I found.
Simple Changes for a Secure Garage – Keychain Garage Door Opener
A keychain garage door opener one effective way to secure your garage. It may be somewhat uncommon, but it does make sense. If you park your vehicles outside in the driveway but have your garage door opener on the visor of the car, you are one smashed window, (or unlocked door in my case), from allowing someone access to your garage, and potentially your house.
Review your habits when you come home. I always have my keys with me, and I put them on the counter once I am in the house. By having the garage door opener on my keychain, rather than on the visor, I am removing one of the variables when it comes to someone breaking into my garage. I have been doing some research on which keychain remotes are the best, here is what I would suggest from Amazon.
Bring Your Garage Door Opener Inside
For sheer convenience, and me forgetting to do this, this will not be a viable solution for securing my garage. But nevertheless, this might be one of the simplest options to implement. Once you arrive home, along with your other items that you might need to bring in the house, grab the garage door opener as well.
The trick is to remember to pull the garage door opener from your visor, or from your center console. This could be as simple as keeping it in a purse or a backpack, but convenience is key. You will need easy access to the “clicker” otherwise it will end up back where you had easy access to it in the first place.
Does Your Wired Remote Have a “Lock” Setting to Disable the Garage Door?
Many of the wired garage door controllers have an option to lock the door by disabling the remote-control function. This is an easy way to disable the wireless remotes if they are left in the car on the driveway. If you have one of the older styles of garage doors and you see the importance of having the ability to lock the garage door and disabling the remotes, we purchased the Genie QuietLift (Amazon Link).
Please note, locking the remote function from the wired controller does not disable the emergency release. If a thief is able to fish a wire and is able to snag the emergency release pull, the door will still be able to be opened manually. I will discuss this later in the article.
Secure Your Emergency Release Handle
If a thief is going to break into your garage, one of the easiest ways they may try is to use a wire or a coat hanger and work it past the door seal and to pull the emergency release on the door. Because of this weak point in your garage’s security, you have a couple of options to help make your garage more secure.
First, you can remove the pull completely. (Although, I wouldn’t actually suggest that you do this!) Typically, the only times this pull is even necessary is when the power goes out, the garage door opener is broken, or you have another actual emergency you are contending with. In any of those cases, that adequately named piece of rope and rubber becomes vital. In an emergency, you do not want to be spending additional time attaching the pull so you can open the door.
A second option is to zip tie the cord, so it is more difficult to reach. This is a viable option, but again in an emergency, I am not willing to spend the additional time getting to the chord. In my wife’s situation, she might not be able to reach the cord at all and that could cause a cascading chain of negative events.
My personal suggestion would be to keep the cord but remove the t-grip from the pull. This will allow you easy access to the emergency chord as needed. But, in the case of an attempted break-in, there is nothing to “hook” to release the garage door. So, with this third option, you are keeping access to the emergency release, while still securing your garage from a potential break-in. Win-win!
Disable the Garage Door Opener Power Supply
Having the ability to cut the power to the garage door opener can be another simple way of securing your garage. Rather than being forced to plug and unplug the garage door opener every time, there are remote power supply shutoffs that can make this task much easier. Having a product like this will allow for even if you make a mistake, leave the garage door opener in the car and a thief is able to get their hands on it, the remote is useless with the power being cut to the garage door opener.
What I would suggest is purchasing this (Amazon link). You can put this remote next to the wired remote for the garage door opener in the garage. This will make it so you only have one additional step to supply power again to the garage door opener and you will not have to fight with plugging it in every time when you are trying to leave for work.
I feel obligated to point this out, again. If you disconnect the power supply from the garage door opener, the emergency release will still allow for the garage door to be opened manually. If you install this, please take other precautions as well to better secure your garage.
Check the Condition of Your Garage Doors
Taking steps and adding precautions to increase the security of your garage and home are great to do. But when you are thinking about this topic, please first consider the condition of your garage door and your side entry door. If either door is in bad condition, adding door jamb reinforcers, or cutting the power to the garage door opener will do you little good if the doors and the track are in bad working condition.
For the garage door, make sure the track is in good working order and is secure to the wall and ceiling. The roller wheels need to be greased, have little play, and are secure to the track. Third, the door needs to be solid, in good condition and comes to rest against the concrete when closed (I had a neighbor at the old house where his garage door would not fully close. It had a 10ish inch gap between the door and the concrete. I believe he somehow broke the track when he tried to fit a boat that was too big to fit in his garage). Fourth, the lift spring needs to be in good working order (you will know when it no longer is), and lastly, the opener needs to be running well and not binding causing it to fight itself.
The side entry door needs to be solid and in good condition. Pay special attention to the door jamb itself, if there is splitting around the handle area, it would not take much to kick in the door by breaking the frame. Lastly, make sure you have a good doorknob installed on the door with a deadbolt included. Doorknobs are generally easy to break in with a plastic card, but a deadbolt will make it much more difficult.
Garage Entry Door Frame Reinforcements
Side entry doors themselves can be a major security concern if not fortified correctly. Normally if a thief is going to attempt the side entry door, they are going to kick it in and break the door frame. Unless the door frame is reinforced and the area where the handle is located is fortified, the door can be easy to break and open. This causes your garage to be less secure and more susceptible to a break-in.
To remedy this and to secure your garage entry door, we suggest looking into a door reinforcer, or a door reinforcement kit. To keep it cost-effective we suggest looking into The Door Bull, (Amazon Link). It is easy to install, effective, secure, and easy to remove when you are wanting to use the garage entry door.
Secure the Windows in Your Garage
Not all garages have windows, but for those that do, there are some precautions that can greatly increase your garage security and lower the likelihood of your garage being the target of a break-in. You will need to determine what best fits your situation, but here are a few things we would suggest you look into.
First, it is a good idea to either tint or frost your garage windows. You want to make your garage out to be a less desirable target. Making it more difficult to peer into the garage is going will help accomplish this. Some films you can buy are thicker and are meant to increase security.
Second, depending on your situation, there are bars that you can install on the inside of your garage window that is effective when you need it, easy to remove when you want to open the window. Having the bars installed on the inside will keep the aesthetics on the outside of your house but will allow you to help secure your garage from the inside.
If your spouse, significant other, or yourself for that matter have concerns about how those bars will look visually from the outside, combine it with the tint or frost film. The film will hide the bars and will keep them from being visible. The only time that there might be any tell that they are there is when you are working in the garage and the lights are on, which at worst case, might cast a shadow on the window.
Install a Security Alarm
Security alarms for your garage are a viable option if a thief attempts to get past your barriers. Just like door and window alarms for your house, installing a security alarm in your garage will notify you if someone is trying to break in. You will want something that is easily accessible and easy to turn on and off. For your garage security alarm, we suggest that you look at this (Amazon link).
Install Motion Sensing Lights and Security Cameras
As stated above, if you can make your house less appealing and inviting to a burglar, the less likely for a potential break-in. One of the best purchases you can make to secure and protect your garage, and your house for that matter, are motion-sensing lights and security cameras.
Before the break-in, I was already planning to install cameras as a precaution. After the event, I have put that much higher on the honey-do list. Why I was originally putting the project on the back burner some is because of the way my house is built. I knew I was going to need to give it some thought on how best to install the lights and cameras for both aesthetic and functional purposes.
Our new home has a Spanish style elevation when we picked the floor plan. There is no eave to run wires along, no attic to really fish wires through, and the house is stucco from the ground to roof tile. Next, because living in the desert, plastic and electronics take a beating in the brutal sun, so placement options tighten even more.
For those of you who have a roof eave, the options are nearly endless. The cameras can be easily hidden, can be wired directly if you are not wanting to contend with batteries and wireless connectivity, and can be placed nearly anywhere on the home. With the newer security cameras being wireless, installation and monitoring have never been easier. Besides for initial installation and monitoring, you might, in a worst-case scenario, might need to get an extender to lengthen the wireless connection.
You need to keep in mind that these wireless cameras have a battery that will need to every-so-often be changed out or charged. The frequency is normally once a year, but depending on your weather condition, the frequency the camera is recording, and other factors can change that. Follow the manufacture’s guidelines, but I would also suggest setting your calendar to check the cameras in optimal position and operation.
As for motion-sensing lights, this is another thing that with an eave should be easy to remedy if the wiring is not already in place. Even if you need to run power, this might be something you can do yourself, or at least with being a rather inexpensive thing to hire an electrician for. Another option, especially in a situation like I am where I do not have a way to install additional fixtures, there are items you can attach to your current outdoor garage lights that have motion sensors to turn the lights on when it detects movement. My last suggestion, and probably most practical, install some LED lights and keep the garage lights on at night.
When You Go Away on Vacation, How Best Secure Your Garage
As part of the routine for prepping and getting ready to go on vacation, adding “locking the garage door” to the list is a great way to increase your home and garage security. By unplugging the garage door opener and adding a lock to the track, even if a thief was able to get a hold of the emergency release, they would still not have any success in actually getting the garage door open.
I suggest this option only while going and being on vacation is because it is not overly convenient for day-to-day use.
When researching and implementing my findings, I tried to be practical and focus on what is convenient, non-time consuming, and might add only one additional step to any given process. The information here is useful, but if it is not implemented it is useless. Consider what works for your space and your routine. But don’t wait for the small changes. The peace of mind is far better than an unexpected 4 AM wake-up call.