Top 10 Garage Door Security Tips to Prevent Break-Ins

by November 24, 2010 11/24/10

We feel that this is one of our more applicable and import articles, as everyone out there should know something about garage door security. We’ve touched on this topic briefly in our article on a bypass technique commonly used by criminals, but today we’re going to expand on that to look at garage door security as a whole.

Garage doors are a common weak point when looking at security in a whole-home approach and an easy target for thieves. Garage door are not only a weakness, but provide criminals a shelter once inside. To the casual passerby an open garage with a work truck pulled up to it doesn’t look out of place or scream break-in.

Securing your garage door doesn’t just mean the roll-up door; as you’ll read in the article below, you have to look at every entrance point as a vulnerability. Not that any loss to your family isn’t devastating, but one that occurs through a preventable measure just shouldn’t happen. Here are the 12 most important things you can do to secure your garage.

Automatic Garage Door Openers

Let’s briefly talk about the history of these devices so you can get an idea what we’re talking about later in the article. When the first generation of automatic openers came out they all featured the same code. You can imagine the security risk by having one of these openers. Thieves could just drive a neighborhood pushing their purchased transmitter and if you had the same brand as they did; jackpot!

The second generation of openers increased their security by featuring dip switches that could be set by the owner to a unique combination. While this did increase security, most owners would leave the default setting on and guess what? Jackpot! Another security risk of the second-gen openers is that a code grabber could be utilized to gain access to your system. A code grabber device works by locking onto your signal and memorizing it. Then, all a thief would have to do is re-transmit the code and they were in.

Modern automatic garage door openers now feature rolling-code technology, where your remote will transmit a brand new security code each time you press your remote. There are over 100 billion codes, so the likelihood of a code grabber working are very slim. Be sure that your opener features this rolling-code technology! If you use Lift-Master for instance, look for their Security+ line that features this technology.

Top 10

  1. Don’t leave the garage door remote in your vehicle – If a thief breaks in to your car and steal the remote he has a way into your home.
  2. Invest in a keychain remote opener – Stop using that remote you clip to your visor and get a keychain remote opener that you can leave on your keys.
  3. Secure your garage door emergency release – Follow our article here and learn how easy it is throw some zip-ties on your emergency release and still retain it’s intended function.
  4. Keep it locked – Put a deadbolt on the door between your house and garage; is it really that much of an inconvenience to have to use a key each time you come home?
  5. Make sure the door from your garage into your house is as secure as your front door – Ensure you have a strong, sturdy door made out of solid-core wood or reinforced steel and install an Anti-Kick device like the Door Devil on it!
  6. Don’t leave your garage door open – It amazes me how many people in my neighborhood just leave their garage door open all the time. It’s just inviting someone to pop their heads in and grab something. Listen up America! I don’t care how safe you think your neighborhood is, good neighborhoods are the first place criminals like to drive through to case houses.
  7. Install a wide-angle peephole in the door between your house and your garage – You’ll at least be able to see what’s going on if you hear a strange noise; rather than opening the door to find out.
  8. Frost or cover your garage windows – Don’t do thieves any favors by enabling them to see when your vehicle is gone, a better idea would be to replace the door with one that lacks windows.
  9. Padlock the throw latch on your garage door when you’re out of town – If you don’t have a manual lock on your garage door, you can use a c-clamp tightened down on each side of the door track to effectively “lock” down the door. It’s similar to those small window track locks you can buy for your home interior windows.
  10. Don’t neglect maintenance on the mechanical parts of your roll-up garage door and keep an eye out for corrosion. Don’t forget the door from your garage to your house; check the frame, locks, hinges and any replaceable items.

Red Cell

Essentially the same as war gaming a situation, Red Cell is a term we throw around here when we’re discussing testing security by putting yourself in a criminal’s shoes. How would you break in to your garage? What are the weaknesses of your security system?

Do you have an external keypad? try removing it and taking out the batteries out, can it be manipulated to open your door? How can you be sure if you don’t try it out? This is pretty extreme, so don’t take it out of context, but if you’ve got the cash, desire and time to make the repairs; kick in your own door. Have you ever kicked one in? Do you know how easy it really is? It will definitely make you rethink your security.

Notes

Keep drilling these ideas into your head and we can’t say it enough… Test your system for vulnerabilities! Please also take a few minutes and share this with your friends and family! Don’t be the victim of a garage door break-in this holiday season!


Are you getting more than 14¢ of value per day from ITS Tactical?

Please consider joining our Crew Leader Membership and our growing community of supporters.

At ITS Tactical we’re working hard every day to provide different methods, ideas and knowledge that could one day save your life. Instead of simply asking for your support with donations, we’ve developed a membership to allow our readers to support what we do and allow us to give you back something in return.

For less than 14¢ a day you can help contribute directly to our content, and join our growing community of supporters who have directly influenced what we’ve been able to accomplish and where we’re headed.

Click here to learn about all the benefits and Join!


norasantos101
norasantos101

Ever since my mom had her garage broken into I have been worried about the safety of my garage. I have never had problems with locking the door from the garage to the house, but if garages are easier to break into I can see why it is a good idea to have the house door be as secure as the front door. My mom's garage was having mechanical problems when it was broken into, so think it is also a smart idea to make sure your garage is working properly.

no_rip_off_spamming
no_rip_off_spamming

ErikWestesen, by the timestamp of your post you were somehow a day or actually 2 before the inital first airing of the Shark Tank episode.   Odd.   As it turns have just watched the first airing of the episode, only several hours ago.....and researching.


As it turns out I think that the the Shark Tank seems to be a very expensive version of what can be a 40 dollar add-on.


See 

LiftMaster Power Door Lock 41A6102 Garage Door Opener   wire it in, triggers with the remote, safety latch not an issue...same as sharktank, but 40 vs 250,  I thnk it will work on non Champerblin also, as it a simple wire to the bell connections

ErikWestesen
ErikWestesen

Obviously you still have to be smart, but it seems like a garage door lock like the Shark Tank company one might be a good option- elocksys.com

Anyone have any experience with this?

Tenacious
Tenacious

One thing that I'm really mindful of is where I put my keys when I'm away from home. You have to be extra creative these days! I'm thinking of investing in an alarm system, but I don't know which route to go if anyone has any suggestions. I don't want to spend a lot of money either if possible. I was considering the Tattletale http://www.tattletale.com but does anyone know if it's good or not?

azquestion
azquestion

?how do I active the door stop so my wayne dalton garge door wont open by someone lifting it from the outside of the garage

Been there been thru it
Been there been thru it

Appreciate the info - I had to play super sleuth myself as my home had been repeatedly broken into as it became a sick game almost. The garage door trick - "fishing" for the emergency release cord had been done - broad daylight ! Numerous times as well. Bump keys were utilized on every cylinder lock - every door knob or fence lock I put on my gates - sliding glass door has been breeched as well and no window is safe - best thing I ever did was look for information we all have access to -the internet- free will to do with that info as we choose - and I chose to utilize the same technology and information that was bong used against me to help me take control over the terror some creeps tried to unveil and did to a point until I made it stop. I am qualified to use and bought a hand gun, made safety plans for my kids and I, installed mirrored tint on all my windows (helps with insulation as well) made every access only accessible to me and my kids. Sealed shut the crawls space under the house and any vents. Locking reinforced window locks on sliding door and windows, paddle locked my front door from the inside as well as the garage door entrance from the garage. I installed a bolt lock for the inside of the garage door got rid of my garage door motor that had the old rf remotes with the rolling technology. I also placed a barrier around the motor to prevent access to the motor itself for programming purposes . Lastly and THE BEST ADVICE - internet camera security systems ! Hands down the safest and THE biggest thing that has brought peace of mind if I thought that were possible anymore after being stalked. Every side of ur home and have the cams pointed at each other so no blind spots . They may try and hack your system there's ways around that too. Bottom line - they breach ur space they're on cam and the internet.

BarryStevenson
BarryStevenson

great ideas in this article, just were broken into last night.

leguerrajr
leguerrajr

Showed the article to the wife...firearm purchase...APPROVED!

Westerly
Westerly

Note this:  There has been no evidene of hackers being able to break "rolling code" remote garage door openers.

Westerly
Westerly

I'd just like to say that the plastice tie wrap is not a law breaker.  The handle itself will break the tie wrap with about 20 pounds of pull in an emergency situation.  A criminal cannot get twenty pounds of pull using a coat hanger to try and pull the release from outside the garage.  The entry point would substantially limit the capability to break the tie wrap. 

lensgrabber
lensgrabber

"Don’t leave your garage door open"  -  This happens all the time in my neighborhood.  My next door neighbor left his truck running in his garage and went back inside to grab something off the counter.  By the time he got back his truck was pulling out of the garage driven by some opportunist.  He managed to get the door open but ended up being dragged down the street some distance.  This was at 6am in a very safe neighborhood.   We think the perp was waiting for another neighbor to leave his house since this was his regular schedule to leave and instead decide to grab the vacant truck instead.  I never would have thought this would have happened next to where I live.  Now both me and my wife are in the locked car BEFORE the garage door is opened.  When coming home, the garage is shut before we get out.  You can never be too safe.   The truck was found weeks later in a different state but the inside trashed with burn marks on the seat.  It was a lot of headache for just a few seconds of vulnerability. 

no one special
no one special

Keep in mind, that disabling the disconnect of the garage door opener is illegal. It is illegal to bypass a safety device, and that release is not for a power outage, but for a power outage DURING a fire.  I do this for a living. I know about a dozen ways to breach that overhead door, without much noise, or drawing much attention. Do not consider a garage to be a secure area, and make sure that connecting door is substantial and locked (as I saw in the article above) 

However, the connecting door, is often bypassed for an interior wall. As long as the customer is not home, all those tools stored in the garage (sledge, shovels, baseball bats, ect, will make short work of the inner wall. 

Do NOT pad lock the track of the door, or use the side lock while the machine is attached. (one or the other only) the machine can and will fold the top of the door inward, as it tries to raise, it can break the plastic drive gears in the machine. 

Maglocks (we install these as well) hold in static pull( face to face ) garage doors slide in tracks, and the maglock would have to be mounted in sheer (bypass) they are nowhere near as strong in sheer (that is why you slide heavy magnets apart, when you can not pull them apart) and since garage doors HAVE to HAVE some side to side motion to function correctly, mag parts would hit and throw off the cables from time to time. (this is not a user friendly fix, Though I could reset it in a minute or less) 

Garage doors are about limiting access, not preventing access. If they want in in a hurry, they will simply back up to the door, reach under with a hook on a rope, tie off to the trailer hitch, and drive off with the bottom of your door. That takes seconds to do.

best tip I can give you is this: If you find your transmitter missing from your car when leaving a mall or shop, check for your registration, it has your address on it. they have a key to your place, and a map to where you live. call the cops and have them meet you at the house. they will not mind if it is a blank run, they will think you very smart. (I know, I have cops in the family) when home change your codes or call a tech to have them changed for you.


Ps.QuiescentMind3 , mag locks do NOT come with battery back-ups they are simply an electro-magnet. they can be CONTROLLED as either fail/open or fail /secure. fail /secure will be installed with a battery back-up. 

no one special
no one special

Keep in mind, that disabling the disconnect of the garage door opener is illegal. It is illegal to bypass a safety device, and that release is not for a power outage, but for a power outage DURING a fire.  I do this for a living. I know about a dozen ways to breach that overhead door, without much noise, or drawing much attention. Do not consider a garage to be a secure area, and make sure that connecting door is substantial and locked (as I saw in the article above)  However, the connecting door, is often bypassed for an interior wall. As long as the customer is not home, all those tools stored in the garage (sledge, shovels, baseball bats, ect, will make short work of the inner wall.  Do NOT pad lock the track of the door, or use the side lock while the machine is attached. (one or the other only) the machine can and will fold the top of the door inward, as it tries to raise, it can break the plastic drive gears in the machine.  Maglocks (we install these as well) hold in static pull( face to face ) garage doors slide in tracks, and the maglock would have to be mounted in sheer (bypass) they are nowhere near as strong in sheer (that is why you slide heavy magnets apart, when you can not pull them apart) and since garage doors HAVE to HAVE some side to side motion to function correctly, mag parts would hit and throw off the cables from time to time. (this is not a user friendly fix, Though I could reset it in a minute or less)  Garage doors are about limiting access, not preventing access. If they want in in a hurry, they will simply back up to the door, reach under with a hook on a rope, tie off to the trailer hitch, and drive off with the bottom of your door. That takes seconds to do. best tip I can give you is this: If you find your transmitter missing from your car when leaving a mall or shop, check for your registration, it has your address on it. they have a key to your place, and a map to where you live. call the cops and have them meet you at the house. they will not mind if it is a blank run, they will think you very smart. (I know, I have cops in the family) when home change your codes or call a tech to have them changed for you.

jensmott
jensmott

These tips are great, or, if it's possible for your home, you could install a security gate as a first line of defense. This is nice because it keeps animals and unwanted cars off your property. Very useful in my area because we have deer that eat our plants. Doing this will provide a little bit more safety before anyone could get to the garage. This website helped me: http://raybernerectors.com/?p=44

QuiescentMind3
QuiescentMind3

Has anyone considered adding a maglock to their large garage door? They're pretty simple to install. Just a little pricey. A quick google search showed about $250-$275 for a 1200lb system. So it would take someone lifting with over 1200lbs of force to get past the magnetic lock, IF it is installed correctly. They generally have 24-48hr battery back ups for when the power goes out. Just program that in to release when the garage door code is entered, could even be coupled in with an alarm.

QuiescentMind3
QuiescentMind3

Has anyone considered adding a maglock to their large garage door? They're pretty simple to install. Just a little pricey. A quick google search showed about $250-$275 for a 1200lb system. So it would take someone lifting with over 1200lbs of force to get past the magnetic lock, IF it is installed correctly. They generally have 24-48hr battery back ups for when the power goes out. Just program that in to release when the garage door code is entered, could even be coupled in with an alarm.

Marry
Marry

Today when I was in my house and had to go to the garage for something, I noticed a strange thing, both the garage doors were open and the parking lights of the car were on. No signs of a stranger though.Any suggestions of how that could happen if there was no person involved.

JDK
JDK

Could not agree with you more John, simple & secure. We have been using that method for over 20 years now. Although tonight I was replacing the battery in the remote & opened the garage door by mistake and one of the rollers was forced out of the rail as it tried to get past the padlock, door didn't open though.

John
John

I drilled a hole in the track of my garage door and put a pad lock on it. Problem solved

Betty
Betty

Buy a baby monitor ! Put one in the garage & one in your bed room or where ever you sleep. I have been doing this for years & it works. you can hear what ever is going on in your garage. Now they have the new ones out that you can see inside. Check at the local walmart or other department stores they may have them & can explain to you how they work. Good luck

Ed
Ed

Yes. Anything which produces radio frequency could POSSIBLY trigger your door openers. From a lightning strike to a passing police car radio. Unusual but not impossible.

SaL
SaL

their has to be some better way to make sure my Garage will be safe when Im in my home at night? Im looking for some way to setup something like with a speaker to make them Run very fast that I would be able to hear from my house! please help me maybe there's something I could buy at home depot that I could do on my own?

Kevin Hildebrandt
Kevin Hildebrandt

I can't agree with this list more! Number ten especially, I work with garage doors and I can't tell you how many are not taken care of or improperly installed and are little more then an inconvenience for criminals. If you have a problem with the biggest way into your home consult a pro to fix it.

Sally
Sally

I'm trying to understand how someone could open the garage door by disengaging the manual opener. I don't have a handle on the inside or the outside of the garage door. could someone still open the garage door? I can't even open it. When we bought the house there was a key access by the front door but we never found a key for it, we followed the wire to the door opener but still don't know why someone would put their car in the garage and then go around to the front door to close the door and then go in the house.???strange

Jim
Jim

It seems that the best answer to garage door security is to dispense with electronic openers altogether. They're great convenience items, but many of us grew up without them and somehow survived. I'd have to opt for security over convenience if I had to choose. Use a heavy duty, commercial grade, secure steel door and put the car in the garage at night. The main drawback is a little weather exposure now and then.

Denis
Denis

one more thing I would like too add! forget about Genie and chamberlains garage door security efforts! the hacker's are laughing at them, there is strong and factual evidence all over the internet that the Hacker have hacked all of the Garage door security systems of genie and chamberlain have come up with. go to Google and type in Garage door security hacking and you will see just how serious this matter is! Garage door security hacking should be considered a national security threat.

Ian
Ian

Are you reallly suggesting somebody kick in their garage door for the sake of research? They could just get an alarm.

RK
RK

I installed key pad locks on the door between the garage and the interior. Most people I know don't like to install or use locks because they forget their keys and get locked out or are in just too much of a hurry. Keypad locks provide me with a way to leave the door locked at all times and I never have to worry about lockouts. If I'm going in and out I can elect to put the door in an unlocked position, but even if I forget entering the code isn't a big deal. With the Schlage locks (and I assume others) you can also use their option to link it to an online system where I can control the lock with my phone if needed (let someone in without ever sharing the code or create a temporary code for someone). I can also automate the locking mechanism on a schedule so at certain hours the door will lock automatically if I ever forget to re-engage the lock. A little too much technology to rely on for security so I still check the lock regularly but it adds a little security and a little convenience.

http://consumer.schlage.com/Products/Pages/category-landing.aspx?category=Electronic+Keypad+Locks

RK
RK

I installed key pad locks on the door between the garage and the interior. Most people I know don't like to install or use locks because they forget their keys and get locked out or are in just too much of a hurry. Keypad locks provide me with a way to leave the door locked at all times and I never have to worry about lockouts. If I'm going in and out I can elect to put the door in an unlocked position, but even if I forget entering the code isn't a big deal. With the Schlage locks (and I assume others) you can also use their option to link it to an online system where I can control the lock with my phone if needed (let someone in without ever sharing the code or create a temporary code for someone). I can also automate the locking mechanism on a schedule so at certain hours the door will lock automatically if I ever forget to re-engage the lock. A little too much technology to rely on for security so I still check the lock regularly but it adds a little security and a little convenience. http://consumer.schlage.com/Products/Pages/category-landing.aspx?category=Electronic+Keypad+Locks

tracy
tracy

How can i secure my garage since the homelink is programmed in my car and my car sometimes sits outside? Anyone could break into the car and open the garage door. Is there any way to secure it?

jyounkin
jyounkin

is there any way to add an audible alarm to the motion detection beam already being used by the opener?

katie
katie

Is there any way a new home with two garage doors would just be innocent accident be able to have both doors open during day when no one was home. There was nothing stolen from the home. there is a deadbolt and security system going into the house and of course inside.

Thanks

katie
katie

Is there any way a new home with two garage doors would just be innocent accident be able to have both doors open during day when no one was home. There was nothing stolen from the home. there is a deadbolt and security system going into the house and of course inside. Thanks

Fred Schmid
Fred Schmid

Hello

Please explain if a thief trying to grab my code as Im disactivating my alarm must be present and activating his code grabber at that very moment or if he can simply leave it on 24 hours a day (within range of course) and grab codes as I happen to be disactivating my alarm

Thanks!

Fred Schmid

Victim 10 break ins in just over 1 month just changed my frequency and fear someones been hacking my codes

Fred Schmid
Fred Schmid

Hello Please explain if a thief trying to grab my code as Im disactivating my alarm must be present and activating his code grabber at that very moment or if he can simply leave it on 24 hours a day (within range of course) and grab codes as I happen to be disactivating my alarm Thanks! Fred Schmid Victim 10 break ins in just over 1 month just changed my frequency and fear someones been hacking my codes

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

Jennifer, securing the emergency release handle has nothing to do with the normal operation of the door.

jennifer trujillo
jennifer trujillo

if using the zip tie fix does that mean I cant use my garage dor opener while the ties are on?

Reddog
Reddog

I took advantage of the "zip-tie fix" when it first came out, but the XL German Shepherd size pet door on the side of the house makes real garage security iffy for me. It depends on their fear of teeth, or their ability to plan ahead and bring a bone. However, we have doubled the security on the interior door, along with the alarm once we were made aware.

Jeff.
Jeff.

Harris51, I was just going to comment on the same thing. I have just recently extended the perimeter of my house alarm to include my garage door (instead of just a motion detector in the garage), as well as the door on the gun safe that is in my garage (I know, won't help if they torch it). Both are bypassable if needed.

Thanks for the writeup, Bryan.

Jeff.
Jeff.

Harris51, I was just going to comment on the same thing. I have just recently extended the perimeter of my house alarm to include my garage door (instead of just a motion detector in the garage), as well as the door on the gun safe that is in my garage (I know, won't help if they torch it). Both are bypassable if needed. Thanks for the writeup, Bryan.

harris51
harris51

How about adding alarm system contacts to you garage doors....

Forces you to consider your garage doors as part of your security perimeter and holds an added level of control over your cars.

harris51
harris51

How about adding alarm system contacts to you garage doors.... Forces you to consider your garage doors as part of your security perimeter and holds an added level of control over your cars.

Jon
Jon

That lock is only compatible with 2 lift master operators, very few people have this type of operator so it's not really an option. It actually turns the shaft where the springs a mounted, most operators are trolley type that are connected to the door itself.

bryanpblack
bryanpblack moderator

@BarryStevenson Thanks for the kind words, Barry. Sorry to hear about your break-in, did they come in through your garage?

no one special
no one special

@jensmott Ma'am, i have been a deer hunter for just about as long as I could walk. I can tell you with certainty, that a deer can jump a 12 foot fence, if it feels the need to do so, A gate will limit People traffic, but will have little effect on deer.

Panoplia Security
Panoplia Security

@tracy yes. many garage door openers have a lock feature on the wall console. switching it into the locked position will disable any remotes from activating your garage door opener.

Denis
Denis

adding alarm contacts to your Garage door is a novel idea! but the better alternative is too have a device that stops any and all electronic Garage door intrusion without the homeowner giving up the convenience of their garage door opener. I have taken what I have achieved too the Sacramento county Sheriffs department and presented it too there crime prevention specialist. all I am lacking is a provisional Patent, once I have that? the sheriffs department said they will issue a statement" that of this device, they know of no other device in existence to stop cyber hacking"!

if your a Patent attorney in Sacramento California please contact me.

Denis
Denis

adding alarm contacts to your Garage door is a novel idea! but the better alternative is too have a device that stops any and all electronic Garage door intrusion without the homeowner giving up the convenience of their garage door opener. I have taken what I have achieved too the Sacramento county Sheriffs department and presented it too there crime prevention specialist. all I am lacking is a provisional Patent, once I have that? the sheriffs department said they will issue a statement" that of this device, they know of no other device in existence to stop cyber hacking"! if your a Patent attorney in Sacramento California please contact me.

The Latest
Squawk Box