Garage Security: A Common Sense Guide

Thieves entered our neighbor’s garage, got into the house, and stole a camera. The loss wasn’t so bad, but their anxiety is now through the roof.

Garage tools, lawn equipment and bicycles are the first to go when thieves rob your garage. Reinforcing garage windows and doors can prevent unlawful entry. Use locks, barriers, and some psychological tools to keep thieves away.

What’s worse is when the garage door to the house is unlocked. Now you have weak garage security and no home security. It’s often the weakest point in home security.

Garage Insecurity: What do You Have to Lose?

Bicycle floor stand
Thieves like to steal nice bicycles

Thieve like entering through garages, which are often unlocked, or at least, not well-secured. These are the top five stolen items from garages:

  1. Tools and equipment: Power tools, hand tools, and other equipment that thieves commonly steal from garages.
  2. Bicycles: Thieves often steal bikes they find in garages.
  3. Lawn and garden equipment: Mowers, trimmers, and other lawn and garden equipment are also frequently stolen from garages.
  4. Cars and other vehicles: Cars and other vehicles are sometimes parked in garages, and they are a common target for theft.
  5. Sporting equipment: Sports equipment, such as golf clubs, fishing gear, and camping equipment, can be valuable and are often stored in garages.
  6. Home Invasion: I’d rather lose 50 soccer balls than have a stranger invade my home. The door to the house from an attached garage is the most insecure entryway on many houses. That’s why it makes sense to secure the home from invasion while protecting your car, lawn equipment, sports equipment, and tools.
Yellow and black tool storage with drawers open and bottom bin tilted out
You don’t want to lose your garage tools to a thief

Garage Entry Points to Secure

Every entry into the garage is a point of failure for you and entry for the thief. Secure the garage doors, of course, but also secure a loft door if you have one, and the door to the home from an attached garage. Beef up window security, both in the garage doors and in the garage walls. Include each on your checklist:

  1. doors: outer doors, door to home, loft door
  2. windows: garage door windows, windows in the walls

Types of Garage Security Solutions

An automatic garage door has a built-in vulnerability you will want to fix. You might consider a keyless entry to remove pickable locks. Remote monitors are cameras that hook into your cell phone. You can physically reinforce the windows and doors, and add extra locks.

  1. automatic garage door opener attacks
  2. automatic garage door physical attacks
  3. window vulnerabilities

Solutions to these problems include getting the right type of remote automatic opener; remote monitoring of your doors and windows; physical reinforcement of windows and doors; stronger locks, and smart locks.

How to Secure the Garage Door

Garage door security starts with the installation and material of the door itself. Vinyl doors are the weakest, as they are easier to cut open than are wood and steel. Steel doors are strong and hard to break. They are mid-priced between vinyl and wood doors. Wood is secure, but very expensive. Looking at buying garage doors now? Learn more about steel, vinyl and wood options in our article: What is the Best Material for a Garage Door? (link opens in a new window)

Inspect your garage doors for damage that a thief could exploit for entry. Fix weak areas as you find them.

Next, use the following instructions to secure the garage door from some vulnerabilities.

garage remote
Remotes with dip switches are vulnerable to brute force attacks

Garage Door Opener Dip Switch Insecurity

Automatic garage door openers that use dip switches have a major security vulnerability. These programmable openers feature a series of 8-12 dip switches that can be set in the up or down position to create a unique code. This means that for an 8 switch remote there are 28 or 256 possible codes, and on a 12 switch remote there are 212 or 4,096 possible codes.

Even the 12 switch remote has only 4,096 possible solutions. Hackers use brute force attacks to break into garages using dip switch remotes. They send every possible code until the door opens.

Therefore, it is crucial for those with automatic garage door openers that use dip switches to upgrade to newer models that use “rolling” codes, where the code is changed every time the door is opened.

Garage Door Opener Motor Insecurity

Thief using hook to break into garage by disabling motor on door opener
Thief using hook to break into garage by disabling motor on door opener

Thieves can break into garages by using a hook to pull on the door opener motor release cable through the seam between the garage door and its frame. This allows them to manually lift the door and gain access to the interior.

A thief inserts a hook through a gap where the garage door and the house meet. Having garage windows makes this job easy and fast, as the thief can see the cable from the outside. The thief pulls the release cable, which allows the door to open manually.

Add a Deadbolt to the Garage Door

The most secure type of lock for a garage door is a high-security deadbolt lock. This type of lock is typically made of solid steel and has a reinforced bolt that inserts deeply into the door frame. They are often more difficult to pick or force open than other types of locks and may also have additional security features such as drill-resistant plates and bump-proof cylinders.

garage door deadbolt

Additionally, some high-security deadbolts are also compatible with smart home systems, allowing you to control and monitor the lock with a smartphone app.

It is important to note that while a high-security deadbolt lock can provide added security, it is only as secure as its installation.

To physically reinforce the garage door, add a deadbolt to the door track to prevent door movement. Be aware that this solution prevents you from opening the door, too. A deadbolt in inaccessible from anywhere but inside the garage.

Here’s a video to show you how to install a deadbolt. Instructions for DIY are below.

To add a deadbolt lock to a garage door, the following steps should be followed:

  1. Gather tools and materials: You will need a drill, drill bits, screwdriver, screws, deadbolt lock, and a template or a level.
  2. Determine the location of the lock: Choose a location for the lock that is easily accessible from the inside but not easily reached from the outside. Usually, this is about six inches from the bottom of the door.
  3. Mark the location: Use a template or a level to mark the location for the lock on the door.
  4. Drill pilot holes: Use a drill to make pilot holes for the screws in the marked location.
  5. Install the deadbolt: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the deadbolt in the pilot holes. Make sure it is securely fastened to the door.
  6. Connect the latch: Connect the latch mechanism to the door and the deadbolt lock. This allows the door to be opened and closed with the key.
  7. Test the lock: Test the lock to make sure it works properly and the door can be locked and unlocked with the key.

Secure the Garage Windows

Garage windows are an obvious point of entry for thieves. They are easy to break and are often left unlocked. To secure the garage windows, consider these ideas:

The three best ways to secure garage windows from forced entry are:

  1. Window Locks: Installing window locks, such as keyed locks, sash locks, or pin locks, can make it more difficult for a thief to open the window. Choose locks that are sturdy and have a good reputation for security.
  2. Window Bars: Installing window bars on the inside of the garage can make it much more difficult for an intruder to gain access. Make sure the bars are made of a durable material and are securely attached to the window frame.
  3. Window Film: A clear or tinted window film can be applied to the glass of garage windows to make them more difficult to break. The film helps to hold the glass together in the event of a break-in, making it more difficult for an intruder to gain access.
  4. Window Coverings: Installing window coverings, such as blinds, curtains, or shades, can provide an extra layer of security for garage windows. This makes it difficult for an intruder to see inside the garage and also provides an added layer of insulation.
  5. Window Alarms: Installing a window alarm can alert you or a monitoring service in the event of a break-in. Choose an alarm that is loud enough to be heard from a distance and has a backup battery in case of a power outage.

Use Motion Sensors, Lights, and Cameras

Annke weatherproof camera
Secure the garage with cameras

Use motion sensors to secure the doors and windows. These can trigger flood lights, and start camera recording. Remote cameras allow you to view your garage from your computer or phone. Some alarm companies such as Simplsafe will automatically call local police when the alarm goes off. Be aware that the police can charge a fee for these calls, but usually do not. Talk with them before buying a system.

Place the cameras so you can see the faces of anyone approaching the home. This means putting them lower down, to avoid just seeing the tops of people’s heads. Point cameras at the garage doors, the garage windows, and the loft door if there is one. Place a camera inside the garage. Point it at the garage entrance into the home.