The video below isn’t the first of its kind and nor is it the latest, but it shows a startling design flaw into the average home: a weak spot in the home that criminals can exploit for their own purposes. We may not think of garages as the most secure rooms in the world, but the ease with which the people in the video are able to break into the garage suggests that we’re not doing enough to keep our homes safe.
This video, uploaded in 2008, isn’t even a minute long and shows how someone with a wooden wedge and coat hanger can break into your garage in seconds. There’s no fancy toolkit, no need for teamwork, and no noise—and it can be done in broad daylight. If you don’t have the right kind of neighbor sitting at their window, watching the street all day, your garage can be broken into right under your nose.
This video even made its way onto the message forum at Snopes, a site renowned for posting urban legends and verifying their truthfulness (or lack thereof). One user wrote, “Our garage door…doesn’t have any convenient windows for you to look through either”, although that may not be entirely necessary. If two criminals are working together as a team, one can either hold a camera phone under the door while the other unlocks it, or just go at it blindly.
How to Protect Yourself
If someone wants to break into your home, they will. What you can do, though, is try and limit their success as much as possible, and the following several options help you do that:
- Windows: Choosing a garage door without windows can greatly reduce a break-in, but that means buying a new door. A cheaper alternative is to invest in frosted windows so you get light streaming in but little visibility, while the cheapest yet is to hang curtains from the inside while you’re away.
- Cord: The cord you see in the video is there mainly for the emergency release lever, and is a piece of convenience for you (and burglars). Removing it makes it much harder for burglars to grab onto anything with a coat hanger.
- Emergency Release Lever: As an added measure, you can just take this piece entirely out of commission. While burglars won’t be able to use this as an access point, neither will you, unfortunately. Consider this option carefully in case there’s ever an emergency, and if you can get in or out another way.
- Garage Door Opener: For decades, we’ve gotten used to pressing a button and having the garage door open itself. However, thieves have delighted in this innovation, as it makes their job a lot easier. By switching to a manual latch, burglars will need either a key or to jimmy the lock (which takes longer). It’ll mean you have to get out of your car to unlock the garage door, but it’ll be a bit more secure.
- Power Supply: Get into the habit of killing electricity to the garage when you’re not there. If there’s no power, the door can’t automatically open. Just remember what you’ve done if you’re pressing the garage door opener and nothing’s happening.
- Motion Sensor Lights: Although this break-in is easy and quick enough to perform in full daylight, burglars would rather carry out their job under better cover. If they approach your garage and a bright light suddenly floods them, it can act as a strong deterrent.
The garage is an entry point to the house that we take for granted too often. Because it’s not used for much else besides housing our cars and household materials, we tend to not give it as much thought as we would the rest of the house. This video is a perfect example of why carelessness can get us in trouble, and how it can happen to anyone.