It’s a Saturday afternoon and you’re putting your tools away in the garage. You pay no attention to the guy walking down the street, assuming he’s a neighbor. But he’s really a burglar, and he’s eyeing your DeWalt drill and miter saw. He knows from experience that, like most people’s homes, your garage probably isn’t as secure as the rest of your house, and he can take advantage of that.
That burglar isn’t wrong. Most people worry more about their grandmother’s heirloom jewelry getting stolen than they do about their leaf blowers and power tools in the garage. But, as one of the most vulnerable and lucrative parts of your home, your garage is a prime target for theft.
These eight security tips will help you think like a burglar so you can secure your garage and beat the bad guys at their own game.
Burglars like the cover of night, and many of them rely on the dark shadows around your garage to hide their shady attempts to get into your home. Installing motion-activated flood lights near the garage windows and doors will make burglars think twice about attempting a nighttime break-in. Motion-sensing lights are especially helpful for keeping detached garages out of the shadows.
2. Check Your Landscaping
More brazen burglars don’t mind prowling around your home in broad daylight, but they’ll still take advantage of the cover provided by a well-placed tree or bush near your garage door or window.
Make sure neighbors and passersby can see everything going on near your garage by clearing away large trees and shrubs and keeping entry points visible from the street. Planting small thorny shrubs under ground-floor garage windows can discourage burglars from breaking in that way.
We know this seems like a no-brainer, but just drive through any residential neighborhood and you’re likely to see a few wide-open garage doors with no residents in sight. An open overhead garage door is an open invitation to burglars.
In fact, one homeowners association in Arizona made a rule that homeowners had to keep their roll-up garage doors closed, and burglaries in the area decreased by 50%.¹
If you’re guilty of leaving your garage door open, consider installing a garage door sensor or an automatic garage door closer. A sensor can tell you if your overhead door is open or closed, and a closer will automatically close the garage after a certain amount of time. For even more protection, consider installing an automatic garage door lock to automatically deadbolt your garage door every time you close it.
4. Hide Your Stuff
Not all thieves go in blind for their steal. Most scan your home for clues that they’ll hit a payday. An uncovered window showing all your high-value garage goodies can be just the motivation a burglar needs to settle on your house for their next score.
Interior curtains or blinds work well, but if you want to let light in (and not have to worry about remembering to close the blinds) consider using an adhesive window covering material like this Artscape Etched Glass Window Film.
5. Rethink Your Remote
Don’t keep your automatic garage door openers clipped to the visors in your cars. Thieves know that a garage door opener remote is basically like another key into your home, and they won’t hesitate to use it if they find it.
Consider treating your garage door opener more like a key by replacing it with a keychain remote that you can keep with you at all times. Another option is to get a smart garage door opener to open and close your garage door from anywhere via your smartphone.
If you’re worried about yourself or another family member getting locked out of the house, try one of our favorite security tips: leave an extra key with a trusted neighbor. Even if your chosen friend doesn’t live very close, it’s better to have an emergency key there than nowhere at all.
6. Shield Your Lock
Thanks to YouTube, we now know how easy it is for a thief with a coat hanger to open your garage door in under a minute. Some security tips recommend using a zip tie or cutting your emergency release cord to eliminate the threat, but that greatly reduces your garage door safety.
Fortunately, there’s a better solution. A Garage Shield covers your garage door’s emergency release cord, making it impossible for a thief to use it to break in. It’s inexpensive and easy to install, but it increases your garage door security while still keeping the release cord accessible in case of emergencies.
7. Protect Your Service Door
Burglars love a good side door where they can do their breaking and entering away from the prying eyes of neighbors. Most exterior garage service doors with standard locks can be defeated with a solid, well-placed kick, but a few simple changes can keep a burglar out.
Toughen up your exterior door security with a deadbolt, and remember that your door’s weakest point is the strike plate, where the lock meets the door. Replace the strike plate with a reinforced one, and use a minimum of 3-inch screws to secure it.
When you’re shopping around for locks, consider a single-sided deadbolt. These locks have either a thumbturn or keyhole on the inside and a solid plate on the outside so they can’t be picked.
8. Secure Your Home Entry Door
As you’re beefing up your garage security, don’t forget about the door that leads from your attached garage into your home. Losing power tools and sporting equipment is bad enough, but once a burglar gets access to the rest of your house, you run even greater risks.
First and foremost, always remember to lock this entry door. A fancy deadbolt or sensor won’t help much if your door isn’t locked to begin with.
To further secure this door, we recommend reinforcing the door’s strike plate and hanging a solid core door with a deadbolt. Your garage entry door is also the perfect spot for either a standalone door sensor or one connected to a top home security system.
My garage door opener remote is old. Could that affect my garage security?
Yes. Hackers can use a code grabber device to intercept and copy the signal from your old garage door remote. They can then send the copied signal to your garage door opener and open the door. Newer garage door security measures incorporate rolling code, which slightly alters the signal your remote sends to the door opener every time, making code grabbers ineffective.
Should I install a security camera near my garage?
Security cameras are a great addition to your garage security. We recommend using outdoor cameras for both outside and inside your garage, because they’re designed to withstand extreme temperatures.
Are there any garage door security products with home automation integration?
Yes. There are many garage door openers with built-in smart features that you can sync to your home automation systems and voice assistants. For example, you could coordinate the systems so that an “away” mode turns off smart lights, puts your thermostat on energy-saving mode, and makes sure your garage door is shut.
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more