Canadians lose millions of dollars every year to property crime. A large number of these crimes are break and enter, and most are preventable. There are extensive information resources online (and elsewhere) providing tips, and steps you can take, to secure your home and protect yourself.
These offer good advice, and often include general tips about securing the garage, too. In this post, we want to narrow things down even further and focus on one key point of entry - the overhead garage door.Many garage burglaries can be prevented by taking a few simple steps to secure the door(s).
Here are some of the easiest and most effective things you can do:
Don’t leave your remote in the car
Many people leave the garage door remote in their vehicle’s center console tray, glove box, or clipped to the sun visor. Sure, it’s convenient, but what if a thief brinto your car and steals the remote? With your address from the registration, he knows where you live and has full access to your garage.
To avoid that risk, take the remote with you when you leave the car. The easiest way to do that is to replace the standard remote with a small keychain remote now available from most manufacturers. If you must leave the remote in the car, try to conceal it.
In the event that your remote does become lost or stolen, and it doesn’t have rolling-code technology (more on this below), follow the instructions that came with your opener to reset the code, thus disabling the lost remote.
Use an Opener with “Rolling Code” Technology
The earliest automatic garage door openers all featured the same activation code, so a thief could simply purchase the same brand of remote transmitter, push the button, and open the door! That was too easy, so the next generation of openers improved security by featuring codes that could be set by the owner via switches inside the remote control and the ceiling-mounted opener. However, many people left these at the default setting. Even if a custom code was programmed, a determined crook parked nearby could fairly easily use a code-grabbing device to pick up and memorize the code. Defeated again!
To rectify those security problems, modern automatic garage door openers now feature digital “rolling-code technology”, having billions of possible code combinations. It uses a different code every time the remote control is used, effectively guarding against code theft. Therefore, for the best security, make sure that your automatic opener features this rolling-code technology. If not, it may be time for an upgrade.
Some of the latest openers feature even more advanced technology that enables you to check and operate the garage door from anywhere, anytime, through a smartphone, tablet or computer, thus adding to your peace of mind. Also, some complete home security systems will alert you on your smartphone that your garage door has been opened. These are other options to consider.
Don’t share your keypad access code
If you have a wireless keypad installed outside your garage door, do not share the access code with other people (neighbors, handymen, delivery persons, etc.), or else make sure it is someone you trust. If you must share the code, change it regularly. Also, just like your bank card, ensure that people aren’t watching when you enter the passcode.
Secure Your Emergency Release
All automatic garage door openers have a safety release mechanism that is actuated by a grab handle. This ensures that if the garage door opener stops functioning, or fails to reverse after striking an obstacle in its path, you can quickly release it manually. The problem is that it’s actually quite easy for a burglar to bypass the opener by tripping this release mechanism from outside the door, using something as simple as a coat hanger, and then freely opening the door.
It is especially easy to use this bypass technique when your door has windows to help the burglar see what they’re doing. For this reason, you might choose to replace the door with a window-less one, or at least cover or frost the windows. You could also add a device known as a “garage shield” which installs easily and blocks a thief from reaching the release mechanism with a coat hook.
Another solution some people use is to zip-tie the disengaging arm of the automatic opener in its closed position, effectively locking it in place. This prevents the thief from tripping the mechanism with a coat hanger, yet preserves the safety aspect because a hard yank to the cord will still break the zip tie in an emergency. However, do not fully wire the disengaging arm closed, as this would also defeat the very important safety function! We also do not recommend removing the pull cord.
Don’t Leave Your Garage Door Open
A surprising number of people carelessly leave their garage door open for long periods of time, unattended. Perhaps they’re doing yard work in back of the house, gone out for a bike ride, airing out the garage, or simply forgot to close it. One must realize when this happens, it displays the garage contents like a storefront to anyone passing by and is practically an open invitation for a casual thief to go in and grab something of value when no one is looking. The best advice is to keep the garage door closed and locked at all times when not in use.
If the reason for leaving the door open is that you just tend to forget, maybe your kids do, or perhaps you have your hands full when leaving the car, one solution is to select an opener with a Timer-to-close feature, or have this function added. This feature will automatically close the garage door after a preset number of minutes (can be overridden) or, with added motion-sensing technology, when there’s an absence of activity. This will always close the door behind you, and make sure it’s never left open by accident.
In the absence of the timer solution, one final tip: When you leave home in your car, don’t just hit the remote button and drive away. Wait to make sure the door closes properly and doesn’t reopen.
Disable the Overhead Door when Not In Use
When you go away for extended periods, say on vacation, disable the garage door opener by unplugging it from the electrical power outlet. If you don’t have an automatic opener, lock down the door by putting a padlock on the latch, tightening a C-clamp down on each side of the track, or putting a bolt through one of the holes. This will prevent a would-be thief from opening the door while you’re away.
Another Tip: Some people install the garage door opener on a switched outlet, which can be turned off more easily when you’re going away, or even at night.
Don’t Neglect Maintenance
A garage door that opens and closes reliably also improves security. Therefore, don’t neglect maintenance on the mechanical parts of your garage door and automatic opener. Clean around the door, and sensors, to prevent dirt and debris from tripping the auto-reverse mechanism after you’ve commanded the door to close. Also, pay attention to the condition and integrity of the door itself.
A badly corroded (metal) or rotted (wooden) door will not be solid, and may be easily broken into. Finally, ensure that all lighting on the opener is installed (no empty sockets) and working properly, and consider installing a motion sensor light over your garage door to discourage nighttime thieves. If an intruder does manage to open your garage door, you want as much illumination as possible to deter him from spending time there.
The garage door specialists at AMPM Ottawa Garage Door Repair™, are always available to offer friendly advice or assistance in helping to ensure the security of your garage door. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing fast emergency response time. Our address is 116 Albert Street, Ottawa, Ontario. We service our clients at
We service our clients at thier own place, as we cover west, east and south Ottawa. We are fully insured and always give a full warranty on parts and labor. We have been working all over Ottawa Valley area including Nepean, Gloucester, Kanata, Orleans, and Gatineau.