Garages serve as entryways into the home and storage places for valuable possessions, but are too often overlooked in security system designs and installations. Fortunately, there are a number of steps every homeowner can take to transform this space into a veritable fortress against intrusion and theft.
Here are 16 best practices for garage security:
Protect the Overhead Door
1. Keep Your Garage Door Closed
The first and simplest method of securing your garage is keeping its main door and side entrances closed. It only takes a few moments for someone to run off the street and take something, so don’t make yourself an easy target, even if you’re working outside.
2. Use a Garage Door Timer
If you ever forget to close your overhead door, a garage door timer will help. You can easily purchase one online, and install it in less than an afternoon. Most kits are universal and work with any major brand garage door opener. Once installed, you can choose from several delay periods, or even define your own, with options ranging from a few minutes to several hours.
Use Safety Eyes for Automatic Garage Doors.
While this item relates to general garage safety more than security, you should make sure your door has a safety mechanism to prevent it from closing on objects or people in its path. This is especially important if you’re using a timer, as you may not be around at the exact moment when it shuts.
So-called "safety eyes" utilize infrared light to sense objects blocking the garage door path and stop it from closing. These can be installed on any system, with parts available online for $25 or less.
In the early '90s, a federal law was enacted mandating all garage door openers be equipped with inherent safety mechanisms to prevent people from becoming entrapped or otherwise harmed by its operation. It was recently amended to provide further protections. If you have an older system, it’s worth double-checking for compliance, and investing in any required upgrade.
3. Lock the Garage Door
After keeping your door closed and using a timer, remember to lock the door tracks with a deadbolt when on vacation or away from the house for extended periods. Either buy a dedicated kit, such as this Prime-Line model, or do a quick Google image search of “lock garage door rails” to learn how to secure the door with a simple combination lock.
Fortunately, it’s as easy to protect your garage from such intrusions as it is to get inside.
4. Use a Garage Door Shield
One of the easiest ways for burglars to break into your garage is using the emergency release on the overhead door opener. A burglar can wedge your garage door open, insert a hook made from a wire hanger, and open the door in less than 30 seconds. Fortunately, it’s as easy to protect your garage from such intrusions as it is to get inside.
The best option is to use a device specifically made to protect the emergency release. Three of the most common options are the Garage Shield, Garage Door Armor, and Garage Protector. All are available on Amazon, and can be installed in less than 10 minutes.
Note: Many websites recommend permanently closing the emergency release with zip ties so no one can get in, but this is against federal standards for garage door safety, and the International Door Association (IDA) recommends against it.
5. Don’t Keep Your Garage Remote in an Obvious Location
Many people leave remote garage door openers on sunvisors or in visible areas within cars, but these are exactly where a determined criminal will look. If you keep the remote in your car, find a discreet hiding place at the very least, or carry a smaller, portable version on a keychain.
6. Keep Garage Door Security Codes Safe
If you use a numerical keypad to open and close your garage door, make sure to treat it with care. Don’t use a default or simple code that can be easily guessed, and don’t give it out to anyone who you wouldn’t trust with a house key.
7. Use a Smart Garage Door Opener
While many of the aforementioned security tips are helpful, one investment trumps them all: a smart garage door opener. These usually come with an app that can monitor and protect your primary overhead door.
A smart garage door opener can schedule timers, check system status, replace remotes and keypads via an app, and even open and close the door remotely. You just need a compatible setup, such as the LiftMaster MyQ opener combined with the Alarm.com app. The only supplement you’ll need is a combination or padlock to secure the rails when you’re away.
8. Use Contact and Tilt Sensors
A standalone smart garage door sensor is helpful by itself, but it works best when combined with extra sensors to help you keep tabs on your garage. Two of the most helpful are contact and tilt sensors.
Both tilt and contact sensors connect your overhead door to your security system and can set off an alarm if someone breaks in. The former senses the orientation change, or “tilt” that comes when the garage door slides up and back to open, while the latter has two contact points that touch when the door is closed, and separate as it opens.
A smart garage door sensor usually comes with one of these included, but if you don’t have one, a single sensor can be a cost effective option to connect your overhead door and existing security system.
9. Use Geofencing to Keep the Door Shut
A smart garage door opener combined with a compatible smart home control center—like the Alarm.com app—provides geo-fencing. This controls smart devices based on location. For example, you could set your garage door to close whenever you get further away than half a mile from home. This helps ensure your garage stays secure, even when you’re away.
Secure the Entire Garage
After securing your garage door, be sure to protect the entire garage space, including windows and doors. Otherwise, your security setup would be similar to installing an iron door on a paper house—people can still easily break in.
Here are seven tips for the rest of the garage:
10. Cover All Windows
If you leave your windows uncovered, anyone can peer inside and see valuables, or your security features. The easiest way to avoid this is to simply cover the openings. You could purchase curtains or blinds, but the most popular option is to tape or paint over the windows with a material specifically designed to create a frosted look. This lets light in, without showcasing what’s behind the glass.
11. Use Contact Sensors on all Windows and Doors
Contact sensors work on all entrances to the garage, not just the overhead door. Door- and window-specific models are available for purchase and should be fitted to all entryways into the area. These will connect to your existing security system and alert you or set off the alarm whenever the entryways are open and the system is on.
12. Use Deadbolts on All Doors
Many people install heavy locks on the front and back of their house, but leave garage entrances unsecured. This makes homes vulnerable, so make sure to use high-quality doors and deadbolts on side entrances and the door between home and garage.
13. Install a Peephole in the Garage Door
In addition to a solid, heavy door, add a peephole so you can see any intruders. If you hear movement, this will enable you to check on it without exposing yourself.
If you were a burglar approaching a garage that had a radio playing, would you try to break in? Most people wouldn’t.
14. Use Exterior Motion Sensor Lights
One ubiquitous and simple theft-deterrent you can invest in is an exterior motion light. These are very common and might not deter more determined burglars, but it does increase visibility and raise attention among neighbors. Plus, it will be easier for security cameras to capture footage.
15. Play a Radio in the Garage
If you were a burglar approaching a garage that had a radio playing, would you try to break in? Most people wouldn’t. Playing music or talk radio—even on a low-volume loop—is a great way to deter would-be intruders.
16. Use a Motion Sensor to Simulate Movement Within the Home
One easy way to deter intruders is to simulate movement inside a house with a motion detector, smart lighting and a compatible smart home security hub. Simply connect all three components and use the smart hub app to turn house lights on whenever the motion sensor is activated. With the Alarm.com smart home security hub, you can even stagger lights activation, so it looks like someone is walking through the home and flipping switches as they go.
Ready to improve your garage and home security? Contact us today to learn how you can protect your home, family and possessions from theft, burglary and more, for one low, monthly price.