Prevent burglar’s entry through your garage
I have previously shared that I responded to the burglary of an NFL player's home in which entry by the burglars was gained through the garage door. The entry was gained by breaking one of the small pieces of glass in the garage door, then using some kind of tool (something as simple as a straightened metal hanger would work) to pull down on the emergency open lever just inside the door. Presto! The garage door opened, the burglar(s) walked/drove inside, then closed the garage door. They were not observed during that 30-60 second operation, so once the garage door closed behind them they had total privacy to break into the main part of the house and take as long as necessary to steal whatever they could find. In this case, the loss was over $100,000 in watches and jewelry. So easy a caveman could do it!
If you have a garage and if it has any glass in it, you can spend $1 and 5 minutes to significantly decrease your chances of being burglarized in this way. Watch as this local Albuquerque, NM TV station uses time on it's news program to educate you on how you can protect yourself.
If you have a garage (I don't) and it's connected to your house, you should consider your garage a juicy target for burglars to use to access your house. In addition to the above step you can take, here's a few more to consider in making sure your garage isn't an easy way into your house.
1. Always keep your garage door closed and locked except for those brief moments when you are coming and going. This keeps the burglars guessing about whether a car is in the garage and whether or not someone might be home.
2. If your garage door has glass in it, take whatever steps are necessary to make it impossible for someone to walk up to the garage door, look inside and discover whether or not a car is in the garage. A light coat of white spray paint would allow some light in without allowing a criminal to see if a car is inside. Translucent, adhesive shelf liner would also work well. This also applies to any other glass in your garage: use curtains or whatever to keep someone from looking inside. You want to keep burglars guessing about whether anyone's home, and prevent them from taking an inventory of the valuables you have in the garage for them to steal.
3. If your garage is attached to your house, the door that leads from the garage to your house should be highly secure (perhaps the most secure door in your house). If burglars or home invaders get inside your garage and close the garage door behind them, they have complete privacy and all the time in the world to force open the door that leads to the house. Unfortunately, builders usually install a cheap, flimsy hollow-core door with only a weak door knob lock leading from the garage to the house. You might as well leave the house open for burglars: at least you won't have to replace the broken door after they commit the crime! I would suggest a steel security door, but that's the subject for a future post on securing all your external doors.
4. You should have an alarm system and it should take into account how likely it is that someone will gain entry through the garage. You have choices to make here. A. You can install a sensor that is tripped when the garage door is opened for your approaching car. This has the advantage of making you close the garage door before you can arm your system. The disadvantage is that when you come home and pull into the garage you have to get out of your car and shut down the alarm system within the preset time period (usually 30 seconds) to prevent a false alarm. That can be pretty tough in some circumstances, and it requires the use of a remote in your car or having a secondary control pad installed in the garage. B. You can install a motion detector in the garage. If you point the motion sensor at the door leading to the house it may not pick up a moving car and therefore give you much more time to park, get out, and disarm the system. C. You can put a sensor on the door leading from the garage to the house so if it were forced open the system would be tripped. This is the most convenient and easiest to work with, but it also concedes all your belongings can be stolen from the garage without tripping the alarm system. That is, someone could break into your garage, load whatever valuables you keep there into YOUR car, hotwire the car, and drive away. The alarm system would not be tripped, you would not be alerted, and the police would not be notified. D. You could put a pressure sensor in front of the door leading from the garage to the house. These are incorporated into mats or small rugs and are tripped when someone stands on them. This speeds up the response time because a burglar will trip the alarm while he's working on forcing open the door.
5. Don't consider a garage door invulnerable to a brute force attack. If you live in a remote rural area or the police are overwhelmed responding a major incident (think Hurricane Katrina), the garage door is not a formidable obstacle. The quickest and easiest way to defeat a garage door is to simply back a vehicle into it at significant speed until it is torn from it's tracks. Of course, stolen pickup trucks are the best for this maneuver. That will make a heck of a racket, but if the police can't respond, what's the difference?
6. No matter what you do about your garage security, remember that it's a simple home invasion tactic to wait for you to come home, follow your car into the garage, and attack you. Eliminate hiding places for men on foot near your garage. For instance, there shouldn't be any shrubs near your garage where a home invader could hide unseen until you come home and open the garage door. As you approach your garage, survey they area for people on foot and don't pull into the driveway or open the garage door from your car if you see anybody you're not expecting. You'll probably underestimate how far away somebody could be from your door and still make it inside before it closes. (Time how long it typically takes you to open your garage door, pull in and then close the door. A reasonably fit adult could easily hide across the street from your house and still run fast enough to get inside before the door closes.) Once you pull into the garage and hit the remote to close the door, put your car in reverse and be prepared to make an emergency exit if someone rushes in. (Yes, this will require driving through your closing garage door, but it will probably save your life.) If you don't have a remote, stay very alert while you're closing your garage door by hand as you are very vulnerable for those few seconds.
Note: If you're reading this and are not yet a member of Peak Prosperity's Personal Safety & Home Defense Group, please consider joining it now. It's where our active community helps one another effectively address the issues of personal safety in and around the home. . Simply go here and click the "Join Today" button.
By the way, I have dealt with the subject of personal safety and home defense in great length in two previous posts and a wiki. If you haven't already seen them on this site, you might find them beneficial:
I have found your posts to be invaluable.
Thanks for the points about being vulnerable while opening and closing the garage door. I had not really considered how far/fast a person could run to attack during that part of the operation.
i guess we live in a different part of the country… next to no one even locks their doors around here.
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