There are over 4,000 burglaries a day in the United States alone, which almost 70% of correspond to residential burglaries. While this may sound scary (and it is), there’s no reason to live in fear within the walls of your own home.
When burglars canvas a neighborhood, they’re looking for a couple of things. One, they want to find an easy target, and two, they want to find a house with items of value. Remember, they are taking a huge risk by breaking into a house, so they want to find a low-risk, high-value target.
If you have an attached garage on your house, you’re providing something that other homes don’t offer: potential cover. This makes your home a preferable target over a house without an attached garage. If a burglar is able to easily get into your garage, they can take their time breaking into your home, without worrying about anyone seeing them do so.
Many of us, my wife and I included, have houses with an attached garage, but that doesn’t mean we should panic. There are plenty of simple steps you can take that will help prevent a burglar from breaking into your garage.
How to Prevent Garage Door Break Ins
As I mentioned above, to deter potential criminals from targeting your garage and/or house, we want to make it less appealing by making it appear to be a high risk, low reward target. If we can accomplish this, most burglars will move on to a different house.
1 – Keep Your Valuables Out of Site
The first step to deterring potential burglars from breaking into your garage is to make sure your valuables are kept out of site. If a burglar doesn’t know you have something, by breaking in, he’s risking a lot for potentially nothing.
While most of us think of jewelry and electronics when we hear the word valuable, there are other items of value in our garages as well. One of the most common items of value is a power tool.
To keep these out of site, you have a couple of options. One is to obscure the visibility into your garage by using curtains or applying a frosted film to the glass on your windows. Another is to simply store your valuables in cabinets or toolboxes.
Whatever you choose to do, the main point is to make it difficult for potential thieves to see what you have stored in your garage. The same goes for your house in general as well.
2 – Make Your House Look Lived In
Burglars prefer to target homes when no one is inside. This makes sense, because it lowers the risk of confrontation and lessens the chance of them getting caught.
When you are away from your home for extended periods of time, like when you go on a vacation, it’s important to give the appearance that someone is still home and that there is activity going on in your house.
While this doesn’t apply specifically to the garage, the principles are still the same. You need to make it look like someone is home. Not having cars in your garage is a dead giveaway, so the best way to avoid this is to use window coverings, as mentioned above, so no one can see into your garage.
Leaving the light on in the garage might seem like a good idea at first, but in reality, if a light is left on day after day, criminals won’t necessarily assume that someone is home.
A better solution is to generate somewhat random lights and sounds in your garage. By somewhat random, what I mean is that you want the lights and sounds to go on and off at appropriate times, but not at exactly the same time every day.
A good way to accomplish this is with a smart outlet. With a smart outlet, you can create a schedule for when power will be provided to the devices connected to it. You can also configure them to power on and off at random times close to your set times. By doing this, it makes it more difficult for burglars to determine whether or not someone is actually home.
This step applies to securing your house in general as well. Also, make sure you also have someone pick up your mail (or have delivery temporarily stopped), as that is a clear indication that no one is around.
3 – Use Outdoor Lighting
It always amazes me how many people don’t leave any lights on outside at night. This is one of the easiest steps you can take to make it more difficult for someone to lurk around the outside of your home. The lights we use around our house only come on when they detect a certain level of darkness, so we don’t even have to remember to turn them on and off.
Ideally, you should have lights on either side of your garage and another covering any entry doors into your garage. In addition, many people install a floodlight directly above their garage that covers a large portion of their driveway.
If you don’t want to shine so much light outside of your home, consider using motion sensor lights. You’ll still want a few lights around your perimeter, but using a motion sensor floodlight is a good way to only project large amounts of light when someone, or something, actually approaches your garage.
4 – Keep the Remote Opener Inside Your Home
When protecting your garage, the area inside and around your garage isn’t the only area to pay attention to. If you park outside, you have to consider what you store in your car.
Most people keep their garage door opener in an easy to access location in their car. While this is convenient for us, it’s also great for a criminal that happens to break into your car.
If you must park outside, there are two things you should do. First, simply lock your doors. At least make it more difficult for someone to break in. Second, don’t store your remote opener in your car. If someone gets access to it, you’ve just given them easy access into your garage.
5 – Lock Your Garage Door
The last thing we want to do is to make it easy for someone to break into our garage. It doesn’t get any easier than turning the knob on an unlocked door.
Not only should you lock all entry doors into your garage, but you should lock the garage door itself as well, at least when you’re going to be gone for an extended amount of time. Most garage doors have a simple locking mechanism on the sides that can be used to secure the door.
If you find that to be too much of a nuisance, just be aware that criminals can use a coat hanger (or something similar) to release the emergency latch on your garage door in a matter of seconds. Once this is released, your garage door can simply be pushed up by hand.
There are various ways to make this more difficult for the bad guys, but one of the easiest is to zip tie the emergency release to part of the garage door assembly.
Although these methods may help, physically locking the garage door is still the best option, especially when you consider that remote openers can be hacked as well.
6 – Secure Entry Doors
As mentioned above, one of the easiest ways to secure your garage is to lock your doors. Don’t forget about the door that leads from your garage into your house as well.
While locking your doors is great, if your doors are not exterior, security doors, burglars may still be able to get through them pretty easily by kicking them open or cutting a small hole to give them access to the lock on the inside.
Make sure any door leading into your garage or house is an exterior security door, and with that, you should have a deadbolt on each door as well.
7 – Install Cameras (Even Fake Ones)
Another way to deter potential thieves is to install security cameras. If a burglar has to go buy a camera to break into your garage, they know that they’re risking being filmed.
Don’t have room in your budget for a surveillance system? That’s okay; just install the cameras. Replacement security cameras are surprising cheap, but they still give the same impression to potential intruders.
With a fake camera, you’re not going to be able to capture any footage, but they do work well as a deterrent and are fairly inexpensive.
8 – Install a Security System
If you have the budget for it, one of the absolute best defenses against home invasions is a security system. Security systems can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the type you choose and whether or not it’s monitored.
When you have a security system installed, you have to choose which areas to protect. While everyone is going to make sure their front door (and usually their back door) is covered, not all think the garage is necessary.
While you might not be as worried about someone stealing items out of your garage as you are about them stealing something out of your house, don’t forget that a garage provides cover for a thief trying to break into your home. If they can easily get into your garage, they can take their time breaking into your house.
If you purchase a security system, simply don’t neglect the garage. Yes, it will add some cost to the project, but by securing the garage, you’re adding another layer of defense to your house.
9 – Put Security Stickers in the Windows
While installing a security system is ideal if you can afford it, not all of us have room for one in our budget. If you simply aren’t willing to fork over the money for a security system, at least put a security system sticker in your window.
Security systems are major deterrents for burglars. By putting a sticker in your window, you’re giving thieves the impression that you have a system installed, even if you don’t actually have one.
Will this fool everyone? Of course not. However, it will work for most and won’t cost you more than a few dollars. What’s to lose?
10 – Put “Beware of Dog” Stickers in the Windows
Another major deterrent for burglars is a vicious dog. While we don’t all have large dogs to help scare away intruders, we can again give the impression that we do by putting a “Beware of Dog” sticker in our windows.
By putting these stickers in our windows, we’re simply trying to make our home less appealing to criminals looking for an easy target. Again, it won’t work on everyone, but for the cost, it’s well worth the effort.
11 – Install Security Bars
The garage door and entry doors into the garage are not the only way in for burglars. If you have windows in your garage, they provide a potential entry point as well.
The ideal way to prevent someone from breaking in through your garage windows is to secure them with security bars. While security bars do obstruct the view a bit, who really needs to look in and out of their garage windows anyway?
If you’re concerned with the appearance of bars in your windows, go with the type that mount from the inside. Some of them even provide a way to unlock them from the inside, in case you need to get through them in an emergency.
12 – Don’t Provide Easy Cover
Last on our list is to not provide easy cover for potential burglars. As I mentioned early on, when thieves look for a target, they look for something that’s low risk. If the areas around your house and garage provide a lot of cover, you’re making it easier for criminals to lurk around your home.
A couple of items that provide cover for burglars are plants and vehicles. If you have a lot of large plants, like shrubs, make sure they’re trimmed, especially near your entrances. For vehicles, simply don’t park them close to the house.
By following these simple steps, you’re making it more difficult for someone to sneak around the perimeter of your house unnoticed.
While having an attached garage can potentially provide extra cover for a criminal, it doesn’t automatically make our homes easy targets. By following some of the steps outlined above, you can sleep easier at night knowing that you’ve significantly reduced the likelihood of a break in through the garage.