Safety Announcement: Protecting Against Garage Door Break-Ins - ITS Tactical

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Safety Announcement: Protecting Against Garage Door Break-Ins

By The ITS Crew

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.


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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  • Andrew Koran

    have windows removed or not installed is also a big help, the video shows a door with windows, which helps greatly in locating the latch to start with, further, use of slide latches on the sides also reduces break-ins

    • Andrew, we did mention the points on windows vs. no windows in the article. Using slide latches is pointless with an automatic garage door opener and defeats the purpose. I suppose you could always throw the side latch at night as long as you remember to disengage it in the morning. There are devices that work electronically in conjunction with your opener to throw a secondary side latch, but those are hardwired to the house and would be rendered locked during a power failure from what I remember about them.

      Thanks for the comment,
      ~ Bryan

    • Cliff

      My side latches are thrown by hand not electronically and can only be open from the inside.

  • Pig Monkey

    Alright folks, how would you secure one of these? I see no spot for a zip tie or wire.

    • I’d drill my own secondary hole to zip tie it. It’s plastic and it looks like there’s a hollow area directly above the arm.

      Great reply and thanks for sharing!
      ~ Bryan

    • Daniel Garcia

      If that flat plate area on top of the mechanism isn’t to thick, I’d drill a hole in it and run the zip tie through it and around the locking lever.
      You could also run the zip tie through the hole the pull cord runs through. You may need more then one zip tie but it should work.

    • 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!

  • Graham Monteith

    Wow it’s insane what people come up with to break into places. This was a good and helpful vid. Thanks ITS Tactical.

  • Jackel

    Great article, I am surprised no one has broken into my garage yet. I will take care of the problem as soon as I get home.

  • Eric

    It seems like there should be some type of plastic shroud coming down around sides of the lever, which would prevent a coat hanger from hooking into that void and disengaging the lever from the outside.

    • Eric, maybe one of these days the opener companies will wise up and create this as a standard. Until then, it’s zip ties and sharing knowledge.

  • 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…

    • Excellent Tip Andrew!

    • Daniel Garcia

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

    • Frank Kays

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

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • Good tip on the mirror tinting Daniel!
      ~ Bryan

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

    • 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

    • jeff

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

  • Brandon Booth

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

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

      Stay safe,
      ~ Bryan

  • Wesley

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

    • One of these days I’ll get around to hanging up old skate decks 🙂

  • 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!

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Lonnie

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Richard Perry

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

  • 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.


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

  • Janice Fulks

    What is the email address?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Karin

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

  • 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.

    • sludgepickle

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

  • JacquesBellange

    I like this article and thanks for this article.

  • 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.

  • 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….

  • 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

    • LopRidgeway

      30 years, no emergencies. 6 attempted breakins in the neighborhood

  • 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.

  • jtheires

    How would a flat shield (installed on the emergency release lever) work to prevent the coat hanger break-in? Release cord would still need to be stowed, of course.

    • GarageShield

      @jtheires Check out our video on to see how effective it is.  That said, there are reviews of our product by prime time news affiliates and it has been proven affective.

  • Corvus63

    I’d like to see the odds of needing to use the emergency exit release lever versus the odds of burglars using the garage door for entry.  If I need to use my garage door as an emergency exit and I can’t figure out how to defeat the zip tie, maybe it’s best I don’t make it.  If I had a family I would teach them how to defeat a zip tie also.

  • garagedefender

    Zip Ties are really dangerous, no Fire Dept in the country would recommend using one.  See our Zip Tie section on our Garage Defender website. We have a much safer solution. Check us out at

    Alex Wolfram
    Garage Defender, LLC
    Solution to the 6 Second Garage Door Break In

    • Sabbie

      If you have a regular door for exterior egress should be fine.

  • Nogunzisgoodgunz

    “but you loose the safety feature of the door.” “Loose?” Looks like the garage door should have come with a spelling/grammar checker! LOL!

  • Dan Garvin

    When I read the sentence, “or using the tools that most of us have in the garage against us.” I thought, “Why is the garage against us?” Huh?

  • LopRidgeway

    It’s easy, it worked for my neighbor 2 days ago. Front garage facing the street at 3pm . If it’s a true emergency and you can’t get out, drive the car through the door.
    Here in suburban NJ we have a major heroin problem and it’s an easy deterrent to stop the losers looking for an easy entry.
    To the guy who said there should be no problem if the door is installed correctly, your obviously much better than the guy who put our doors in
    Thanks for the article. I gave it to all my neighbors.

  • have windows removed or not installed is also a big help, the video
    shows a door with windows, which helps greatly in locating the latch to
    start with, further, use of slide latches on the sides also reduces

  • SheilaOrr

    I’m thinking a screw, long enough to touch the top part, run thru the hole for the rope.  No gap but doesn’t interfere with mechanism.

  • mike

    I just checked my garage door and there is no gap to even insert a hanger or any other object at the top of my garage door. My door is flush against the top of the garage door frame.

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