Six Seconds with a Coat Hanger to Break into Your Garage

BY Beth Williams

How Thieves Break Into Locked Garages with Just a Coat Hanger

This video shows the problem of garage break ins.

This video demonstrates a solution to stopping garage break ins.

How to Prevent Entry into Your Garage Door

Burglars know how easy it is to get into a home by a roll-up garage door and now you do, too.  As a homeowner you need to know that a burglar can open a closed roll up garage door in seconds, with just a small block of wood and a coat hanger, that’s it!

This garage door safety release mechanism can be tripped from outside of your garage door with nothing more than a coat hanger. To open up a roll-up garage door, all a thief needs to do is thread a coat hanger or hooked piece of wire through the top of the door and pull the emergency latch. By disengaging the safety release on your door the door can be rolled up by hand to let a thief inside and then quickly back down as if nothing were out of the ordinary.

It’s very easy to defeat an automatic garage door opener and break into a garage, especially when you have garage door windows that enable a thief to see exactly what they’re doing. Even without windows the task is fairly easy and can be done just on feel and knowing the mid-point of your garage where the release cord is located.

Hopefully, you lock the door from the garage to your house every single time you drive out of the garage. Many of us don’t lock the door between the house and the garage during the day as we’re coming and going. Even still, once a burglar has access to your garage and lowers the garage door quickly, they have plenty of time to bypass the door lock to your home without being seen. What makes it easier for burglars is that many doors aren’t built solid or have a deadbolt. Burglars can pick the lock with small tools they carry on them or to add insult to the injury, the burglars might breach the door lock by using the tools that most of us have in the garage.

What to do to Keep Burglars From Entering via the Garage Door

There are several simple methods to help foil this type of break-in.

Remove the cord from the garage door release lever. The cord attached to the emergency release lever is a minor convenience when you need to trip the lever like during a power outage so you can manually roll up the garage door. It is also something relatively easy to grab onto from outside using a clothes hanger. Removing the cord makes getting in a bit more time-consuming for a burglar to get inside your garage. If it takes too long the thief may give up rather than risk getting caught in the act of braking in your garage. In most cases, this is the best way to keep someone from using the coat hanger trick to break into your house. Of course, it also means that you won’t be able to get in without your remote this way yourself. You might want to consider this option for when you’re gone for a few days or longer. Some folks do this and then bolt the garage door to the wall or floor on the inside of the garage while away. This completely stops the door from being rolled up.

The Best Solution – Lock the release lever into the engaged position. On some garage door openers, you can use a plastic cable tie or some thin wire to tie the lever to the carriage assembly it is attached to. The lever always has a hole in it (to attach the release cord) and some carriage assemblies have holes you can run the cable tie or wire through. If your garage door release doesn’t, you can drill a hole. The idea is that you just need to make it virtually impossible for a flimsy coat hanger to be able to pull the lever down, while, at the same time, allowing you to cut or remove your simple lock from inside the garage.  You simply do this by using a zip-tie (or two), to lock the engaging arm on the automatic opener. While this will prevent the bypass technique employed by thieves, the safety pull handle can still be yanked hard from inside the garage to break the zip ties in an emergency. This method also still allows you to use your remote control to open the garage door.

More Home Security Solutions

Install a heavy-duty deadbolt on the door leading to your home as a permanent solution.

heavy duty deadbolt

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Install a security door brace on the door and floor, a more permanent solution that augments a good solid door lock.

security door brace

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Use a portable door jammer security rod on the closed door to stop the door from opening.

door jammer security bar

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Use a portable wedge door alarm on the closed door, stops the door from opening.portable door wedge and alarm for garage door

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Garage door alarms operate much like window locks; if they sense motion, they’ll emit a loud alarm.

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