Safety Announcement: Protecting Against Garage Door Break-Ins

by August 19, 2010 08/19/10
Garage Door

Today we’re going to put out some important information about the inherent dangers of automatic garage door openers and how easily they can be bypassed. We hope that everyone takes this information to heart and spends just a few seconds to protect themselves and their property.

So what is the inherent danger? All automatic garage door openers legally require a safety release mechanism that is controlled by a grab handle. This is put into place so that if your automatic garage door opener is malfunctioning or traps someone beneath the door you can manually release and move it.

How Thieves Enter

This safety release mechanism can be tripped from outside your garage door with nothing more than a coat hanger. By disengaging the safety release on your door, a thief can simply lift the door and gain access to your home.

While hopefully most of you lock the door from your garage to your house, most aren’t built solid or have a deadbolt. Even still, once a thief has access to your garage they have plenty of time to lower your garage door and bypass the lock without being seen. This can be done with picks, or using the tools that most of us have in the garage against us.

As you can see in the video below, it’s very easy to defeat an automatic garage door opener and break into a garage, especially when you have garage door windows that enable the thief to see exactly what they’re doing. Even without windows the task is fairly easy and can be done just on feel and the fact that thieves know the mid-point of your garage is where the release cord is located.

Methods to Protect Yourself

A few simple methods that can be used to protect yourself against this type of break-in take no more than a few minutes and are something hopefully everyone reading this will do tonight if you’ve not done so already.

The method we recommend is using a zip-tie (or two), to lock the disengaging arm on the automatic opener. While this will prevent the bypass technique employed by thieves, the safety pull handle can still be yanked hard to break the zip ties in an emergency.

Demonstration

You’ll also notice the other method is to completely wire the arm closed, but you loose the safety feature of the door and in our opinion it’s much better to have this option available in an emergency situation.

Please share this article with your friends and family to warn them of the danger in leaving their garage door unprotected!


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AF Garage Door Tech
AF Garage Door Tech

I've been working with garage doors (residential, commercial, and industrial) for over 30 years. I can tell you one thing: you remove that release rope and use a zip tie to secure the release lever on the trolley and you've basically disabled the emergency release feature of the operator, which is not what you want in an emergency. Yes, a person can pull down harder on the release rope to break the small zip tie but it's best not to tamper with the emergency release mechanism in any way. What none of these garage door break in prevention videos mention is that if the opener and garage door are properly installed and adjusted, you won't be able to reach in with a coat hanger and pull the release lever on the trolley. Most garage door openers are (or should be) set so that the door is snug against the floor when it's closed, thus the top section being snug against the top of the door header, eliminating the chance of someone trying to slip a coat-hanger and accurately pulling the release lever. This is of course assuming that the top door rollers are set properly so that the top of the door seals with the trim. 


Also, I don't recommend using/engaging locks when you have an automatic opener. I can't tell you how many top panels of garage doors I've replaced because homeowners left the manual door lock in place after a garage door opener was installed. There are automatic locks that I've seen that connect to the opener and disengage when the opener is activated but again, if the lock malfunctions and stays locked when you are trying to open your door, you will find yourself with a damaged top panel. Some latch locks are useless because all you have to do is push the door in and the lock has been disengaged. If the opener is not working or the power is out, you can place a c-clamp or a pair of vice-grips above one of the door rollers until the power is returned or the operator is repaired.


Overall, if a burglar wants to break in to your house, they will find a way in somehow. It's best to keep all doors and windows locked. If you have an attached garage and the door to enter/exit the garage is inside your home, keep locked at all times and make sure it has a dead-bolt.

Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart

As long as you get a small enough zip tie. Try that with a car parked in the garage and a person that is not very strong, lets see how they fair in this.. You in effect have told people to over ride the MFG safety feature that is in place so they will not be trapped inside, never a wise fix

buzzlight
buzzlight

Hi folks, saw this article after having my garage broken into. They drilled a small 1" hole with a line-of-sight to the release cord, then used an old bent car antenna to reach in and pull the cord. Voila! Luckily, nothing was taken. Had we secured our release latch in the manner described in this article, it's likely they would not have been able to gain entry.



sludgepickle
sludgepickle

Best to just remove the pull rope and put masking tape over the hole so nothing can go through it easily. Then to release the garage latch just grab it and pull it down...easy to do with two fingers.

Karin
Karin

I wish the video was closer to the opener so it can been seen better.

Curtz
Curtz

It is easy to bully the door jam wide enough to grab the emergency pull rope.  Why not beef-up the door so that it does not bend?  Possibly install a center track.  Install fail-safe electric door locks on all three tracks.  Remove the obsolete emergency pull handle.  Use a manual lock / unlock device.  Like the power company uses to throw circuit breakers at the top of a pole from the ground.        As an aside: Change the entrance door from the garage to the house.  In some states this door is required to be a solid core including a good door casing with proper locks.  (Mostly for fire block but also as a security device.  Most are required to have a shut-spring in the hinges for energy efficiency.

mthead2
mthead2

I found this site while trying to find out how my garage was broken into. After viewing this video I checked my door and found that the trim had been pried out enough to stick a wire or something through. I feel better knowing how to fix it now. Thanks, not to spread the news to others.

mthead2
mthead2

I found this site will trying to find out how my garage was broken into. After viewing this video I checked my door and found that the trim had been pried out enough to stick a wire or something through. I feel better knowing how to fix it now. Thanks, not to spread the news to others.

Bob
Bob

I don't know a lot about garage doors, but the one my parents had was far from the door, nearly the center of the garage. No coat hanger would reach that far.

bill
bill

Actually, the BEST deterrent if you have windows is the metal wire through the two holes because the perp will break your little window, then reach through and pull the release handle and break the plastic tie. It won't matter whether the windows are tinted or not.

Janice Fulks
Janice Fulks

We have a garage door opener that the latch is contained withing the track. There is a pull cord hanging down but we can't find where we would put a zip tie. Recently, someone in our neighborhood was broken into using the garage door with no visible signs of damage. The opener is made by Marantec and is 6 years old.

Thanks

Janice Fulks
Janice Fulks

We have a garage door opener that the latch is contained withing the track. There is a pull cord hanging down but we can't find where we would put a zip tie. Recently, someone in our neighborhood was broken into using the garage door with no visible signs of damage. The opener is made by Marantec and is 6 years old. Thanks

Richard Perry
Richard Perry

Great article Bryan. Thanks for the safety awareness. keep up the good work.

kc
kc

As a doorman I come across the occasional opener that will allow the door to open by simply lifting firmly on the door. These are usually tired old openers or super bargain openers. Also I would advise to stay away from the side lock with an opener. Sooner or later someone is going to use the opener without releasing the side lock with less than ideal results. Thanks for all the great articles.

garage door repair santa clarita
garage door repair santa clarita

This is a great safety article on how to keep your home protected from thief's and burglars so that you can feel safe. Make sure that you keep your door from the garage to your home locked when your not there this will prevent thieves from getting access to your home.

ryno
ryno

I have the same crap on mine... I drilled out a hole in the middle top area enough to put a 14guage wire through and tie mine up.

I've had mine tied for years. :)

Great post as usual guys - doin my best to get the word out on this one!

FishKepr
FishKepr

I thought I remembered our opener having a release shroud that would prevent this. To help me sleep easier tonight, I went out to inspect the mechanism to make sure and was promptly greeted by a spider the size of my palm. Thanks a lot pal.

5Solas
5Solas

Great article and now that I have a place with a garage door, I'll be sure to take in all the lessons (especially the tinting on the window).

On a technical note, on the next video could you perhaps *face* the camera so that you're voice isn't so muffled and we can see what you're doing better? Thanks.

5Solas
5Solas

Great article and now that I have a place with a garage door, I'll be sure to take in all the lessons (especially the tinting on the window). On a technical note, on the next video could you perhaps *face* the camera so that you're voice isn't so muffled and we can see what you're doing better? Thanks.

Frank Kays
Frank Kays

Thanks ITS for the tip! However, E. Andrews, you just gave a step by step on the intrawebs for those less scrupulous.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

One of these days I'll get around to hanging up old skate decks :)

Chad Springer
Chad Springer

Could you post a picture of the zip tied disengaging arm? I am away from home and am having a hard time picturing exactly what you zip tied.

James H.
James H.

Thanks for the tip ITS! Just found your website today and already learned something to help make my home safer for myself and the family!

Wesley
Wesley

Good eye Eric S. You beat me to the Powell Peralta comment!

Daniel Garcia
Daniel Garcia

Wow, thanks for that tip Eric!

Forwarding this to a coworker with those "slide locks."

Brandon Booth
Brandon Booth

Because of you Bryan, my family and I can sleep better at night. Thank you sir!

Eric S.
Eric S.

Great info. The Powell flag was a added bonus!!

Daniel Garcia
Daniel Garcia

Great security tip ITS!

Nice simple quick fix too.

As for "windows," I say tint them. There are a lot of self apply tint sheet kits out there, some with a mirror glass effect. Should keep prying eyes out.

Daniel Garcia
Daniel Garcia

Great security tip ITS! Nice simple quick fix too. As for "windows," I say tint them. There are a lot of self apply tint sheet kits out there, some with a mirror glass effect. Should keep prying eyes out.

Eric Andrews
Eric Andrews

Just a side note, with the use of the side slide locks for those who don't have openers, or those really paranoids who use both. Being an installer we regularly get calls to get people into garages that get locked out. Slide locks are easily defeated by removing side moulding/trim on the lock side (very easy to do with the small pry bar your going use in a second), shifting door to the side(opposite of lock) to gain more gap, sliding a small flat pry bar with a 90 degree bend on the end and easily pulling lock back through lock hole in track. I can be in a door (normally) in less than 5 minutes. I know it's not 6 seconds, but thats plenty quick enough. My advise, if your lock doesnt already have one, drill a hole in the end of the lock bar big enough to clip a caribiner through so the lock cant be pulled back through the track without removing the clip. Just my 2 cents...

sludgepickle
sludgepickle

Granted I'm 6'1"...my wife does need to step up onto something to do it, no big deal.

Still_laughing
Still_laughing

@Bob ummm, Bob...it was in the center of the garge when the door was UP.   It will be at the front of the garage wen the door is down....

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Janice, if you email us a few photos I'd be happy to see if I can tell where you should secure it at.

Lonnie
Lonnie

Ditto on this one. It'd make the vid a lot easier to follow.

Santos Marroquin
Santos Marroquin

I am a locksmith and over the years have learned many new techniques and tricks from such postings. The thing is, the class of people using them to do harm have known them for years. A weekend in county jail could probably teach you more bypass techniques than several ALOA conventions. In my opinion, the more people who (previously) relied on such security who now know they should not, the better.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

James, thanks for the great feedback. Glad the information has helped you and your family! Welcome to ITS :)

~ Bryan

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

James, thanks for the great feedback. Glad the information has helped you and your family! Welcome to ITS :) ~ Bryan

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Appreciate the kind words Brandon, that's what ITS is all about.

Stay safe,

~ Bryan

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Appreciate the kind words Brandon, that's what ITS is all about. Stay safe, ~ Bryan

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Eric, glad someone who knows what that is picked up on it :) Still one of my favorite pieces of art from back in the day!

~ Bryan

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Eric, glad someone who knows what that is picked up on it :) Still one of my favorite pieces of art from back in the day! ~ Bryan

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Good tip on the mirror tinting Daniel!

~ Bryan

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Good tip on the mirror tinting Daniel! ~ Bryan

Daniel Garcia
Daniel Garcia

Wow, thanks for that tip Eric! Forwarding this to a coworker with those "slide locks."

jeff
jeff

too funny...first thing i noticed was the old school p/p bones poster...

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