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

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 to let a thief inside and then back down.

While hopefully, you lock the door from the garage to your house, many doors aren’t built solid or have a deadbolt. Even still, once a burglar has access to your garage they have plenty of time to lower your garage door and bypass the door lock without being seen. This can be done with picks or using the tools that most of us have in the garage against us.

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.

What to do

There are several simple methods to prevent this type of break-in.  The most simple take no more than a few minutes and very easy to do.

Disable the emergency release lever. 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 this way yourself.

Remove the cord. The cord attached to the emergency release lever is a minor convenience when you need to trip the lever. It is also something relatively easy to grab onto from outside using a clothes hanger.


Lock the release lever. On some garage door openers, you can use a plastic cable tie or some thin wire to tie the level 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 yours 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 do simply do this by using a zip-tie (or two), to lock the disengaging arm on the automatic opener. While this will prevent the bypass technique employed by thieves, the safety pull handle can still be yanked hard to break the zip ties in an emergency.

Keep valuables in a safe. This safe can’t be removed from your home. Made in America of 16 gauge steel.

Wall Safe Diversion

Safe disguised as a utility panel, click on the photo to see how it works.

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