Doing it right before your garage thief does

You can't eliminate the 'thief' out of the equation, but you can subtract the 'opportunity.'

Burglars like to target areas that lack activity. Garages are a perfect example because they’re usually people free. When an “opportunity” and “thief” engage, it usually ends up with the homeowner losing.

We can’t eliminate the “thief” out of the equation,  but we can subtract the “opportunity.” So let’s start with the garage “man door” (the exterior single walk-thru door). This door needs to be secured with a door reinforcer. This U-shaped plate is installed around the edge of the door and under the deadbolt. It prevents the door from splitting when attacked. Make sure you install a heavy-duty strike plate on the frame of the door with three-inch screws. This is what holds the bolt when in the locked position.

Now you’re ready for the lock. Make sure you install a Grade 1 deadbolt that offers free spinning guards (to deter wrench attacks), anti-pry shields, anti-pick top pins as well as ball bearing embedded cylinder cores to prevent drilling.

Sometimes a burglar will attack the hinge side of the door because it can be an easier option for entry. There’s a simple fix to this problem. Install one or two three-inch screws in each hinge for added support. If you have glass panels either in your “overhead garage door” or “man door” make sure you cover them with a translucent security film. This will prevent a burglar from seeing into your garage, offer strength to the glass and allow natural light in.

And if you’re planning a trip this winter, make sure you unplug your electric garage door opener. If you don’t own an opener, secure the overhead door by either putting a padlock through the hole in the locking bar on the inside or simply slide a bolt through a hole on the inside garage door track. This will prevent a burglar from sliding the door open.

Add door and window contacts as well as motion detectors in your garage when adding an alarm system. This area needs the same kind of coverage as your living space, so don’t skimp out.

Burglars hate light, so remember to check the lighting around your garage area. You may want to install inexpensive motion lighting around the perimeter. If you have your garage door opener clipped to your vehicle visor, shame on you! You might as well leave your house keys hanging from the visor of your car in broad daylight. Why make it easy for the crooks to gain entry into your home?

For a few dollars you can purchase a small key chain remote from your local hardware store that matches up with your existing overhead door opener. Now you can carry your remote with you, eliminating the chance of leaving it in your vehicle.

Once an opportunist spots an open overhead garage door, he or she will make their move, unloading lawnmowers, golf clubs, power tools, bicycles, snowblowers and whatever else they can unload at the local flea market.

One way to eliminate a garage door from unintentionally being left open is to install a device that signals the door opener to close after a predetermined amount of time. The beauty of these devices is you have an option of overriding the control if you want the door to remain open.

And a word of advice for anybody who owns a remote garage door opener; never enter or leave your home without making sure the overhead garage door fully descends. You never know when the door might bounce back up and return to the open position. If this happens you may come home and find a few things missing from your garage.

And finally, drop a zap strap around the release mechanism for the overhead garage door. This mechanism will release the door and allow you to lift it manually in case of a power failure. If you need to release the door, simply cut or pull hard on the door release and lift the door up.

Frank Fourchalk is a home security expert with 25 years in the business. E-mail him at Fourchalk@shaw.ca or visit www.yourhomesecurity.ca

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