True or false: your automatic garage door is secure because no one can get in without a code or garage door opener. The answer? False.
There are several ways burglars can break in to a garage, even one with an automatic door. We’ve got 10 tips and recommendations to follow so you can keep your home and garage safe.
#1 Keep it shut
Our number-one tip is to make sure the garage door does not get left open, especially when you’re not home. While this seems like an obvious suggestion, it’s easy to shift to “autopilot” mode when you’re rushing to work in the morning.
The fact that the MyQ system is compatible with virtually all garage doors manufactured after 1993 sets it apart from the competition. The MyQ can control up to two garage doors, but you will need to purchase a second sensor (under $50 on Amazon) for the second garage door. If you have a more recently manufactured garage door with the MyQ logo on the opener, it may already have the technology installed, so you can purchase just the internet hub ($49.94 on Amazon) to control your garage door from your phone.
The main drawback to MyQ is that you can create only one account for your system, so only one phone will receive notifications when the garage door opens and closes. For families with lots of people coming and going, this may be less than helpful. But because MyQ lets you check on the garage and control it remotely, and it is widely compatible, it is still our top recommendation to make sure your garage door is closed when you need it to be.
- Smartphone monitoring capabilities
- Ability to open and close the garage door from your phone
- Compatibility with most garage doors
- Easy installation and setup
- Free app for iOS and Android
- Nest and XFINITY Home integration
- Permissions for only one user account
- No timer to automatically close the garage door
#2 Time it right
A garage door timer is also an excellent device to help you make sure that you never forget to close the garage door after you leave the house or even when you come home. Of course, there are times when you’ll want to leave the garage door open for an extended period—like if you are working in the yard or cleaning out the garage—so a good timer can easily be turned off temporarily.
Magic Closer Automatic Garage Door Closer
- Easy installation
- Compatibility with all garage door brands
- Three timer settings and a clear “off” button
- No compatibility with advanced technology
#3 Block the windows
While windows are great sources of natural light in a dim garage, they also give thieves an easy way to see if anyone is home and check out what might be worth stealing inside your garage. We recommend either covering up the windows with something like blinds or frosting the windows so that light can still come into the garage but no one can peer in. You can do this with a spray, like Rust-Oleum Frosted Glass Spray ($11.98 on Amazon), or with an adhesive film, like DC Fix Self-Adhesive Window Film ($7.90 on Amazon). Both options are inexpensive and easy to apply.
#4 Secure the doors
Just as important as securing the garage door is securing the door leading from the garage to the house and any side doors leading to the garage. Treat these doors like main entrances into your home and make sure they are as secure as your front door—solidly constructed, securely locked, and routinely checked. Keep the doors locked when you’re not home, even if it means taking an extra minute or two to get into your home after work. Consider getting a digital door lock or a smart lock to make the entrance that much more secure.
Stanley N330-712 Door Viewer
- Wide, 200-degree viewing angle
- Ability to fit doors from 1 ⅜ to 2 inches thick
- Low cost
- Easy installation
- Need for additional drilling tools when installing
#5 Keep your key with you
LiftMaster 890Max 3-Button Mini Remote Control
*Older garage door openers use the same code every time they open the garage door, but tech-savvy thieves could steal that code and duplicate it to break into the garage. Modern garage doors use rolling code technology, which generates a new code every time the garage door opener is used. To find out if your garage door uses this technology, check the serial information and look for Security+2.0, Intellicode, MyQ, or even the words “rolling code” to confirm.
- Ability to attach to a keychain
- Rolling code technology to send a new code every time you use it
- Long-lasting battery (5 years)
- Compatibility with all LiftMaster and Chamberlain garage doors manufactured since 1993
- Simple self-programming capability
- Less durable construction so it may break or wear out with excessive use
#6 Light it up
One of the best ways to deter thieves from targeting your garage is to make sure the outside of your home is well lit, and installing motion-activated lights is the best way to do that. Because you don’t have to leave the lights on all night or worry about turning them off in the morning, you save money and energy and extend the life of the lightbulb. For help choosing a great motion detector light, check our best security lights article.
MAXSA Innovations 40218 Motion-Activated Security Spotlight
- LED lights that produce 160 lumens (total)
- Easily positioned light heads for maximum area coverage
- Motion detection from up to 40 feet away
- Solar-powered battery to save energy
- Simple, DIY installation and customized settings
- Inconsistent performance in rain
#7 Add a lock
You can add another layer of security to your garage by simply installing a lock on the inside of your garage door. While this is not a convenient option during a busy day as you come and go, it is perfect for when you’re on vacation or even just home at night.
Prime-Line Products GD 52118 Inside Deadlock
- Low price
- Compatibility with many garage doors
- DIY installation
- Sturdy materials and construction
- Ability to be installed on either side of a garage door
- Potential need for additional hardware
#8 Shield your emergency release
Several years ago, a video was passed around the internet that demonstrated how thieves could quickly and easily disable an automatic garage door. The video showed that by wedging open the top of the garage door just a small amount, a thief could slip a coat hanger through the gap and use it to pull on the emergency release on the door inside the garage. After that, they could manually open the garage door from the outside.
Note: Some sources suggest securing the emergency release to the overhead bar with zip ties to prevent the garage door from easily being released. However, the International Door Association (IDA) strongly advises against it, as it creates a potentially unsafe situation and is against federal standards for garage doors.
- Quick and easy installation
- Ability to adapt to most garage doors
- Design that won’t interfere with the operation of the garage door or emergency release
- No need for additional installation tools
- Plastic construction rather than metal
#9 Use a monitored security system
One of the best things you can do to protect your garage door is to set up a monitored security system with a garage door sensor. If you don’t already have a security system in place, we highly recommend getting one. You can check out our top-recommended home security systems. If you already have a security system, find out if your company has a garage door sensor or other options that will help you keep tabs on who comes in through the garage.
For example, our top home security system pick, Frontpoint, has a wireless garage door sensor ($44.99 full price) that can sense even a small amount of movement. You can customize the sensor to send notifications to your phone when the garage door opens and closes, and the Frontpoint monitoring center will get alerts as well. You can also set it to act as a “non-alarm” so you receive notifications only if it is left open for an extended period of time.
The biggest advantage of using a monitored security system is that you know that someone else is watching to make sure your home stays safe. If the worst should happen, you know that backup is available to help you right away. Because a garage door is easy to leave open and has some general security risks, the extra protection is absolutely worth the cost.
Only as safe as you make it
Burglars and thieves are generally opportunistic, so don’t give them the chance to take advantage of an open or unsecured garage door. There are many common sense ways to protect your garage—like keeping the door shut, covering the windows, and adding lighting—in addition to several products that will greatly enhance the security of your garage. Take time to evaluate your garage’s weakest points and do whatever is necessary to make it safe.
What do you do to keep your garage secure?