Do I Need a Garage Door Lock in Minnesota?

The weakest link in your home security is very likely to be your garage. A burglar who can get in can take whatever is there. He can also take advantage of the relative privacy to break into your car at leisure. People don’t pay much attention to someone messing with a car if he’s in a garage.

Does your garage connect to your home? Then you’re facing an even bigger risk if the door isn’t locked. Once inside, the thief can go anywhere in your house.

Garage break-ins have become common in the Minneapolis area. Most have been daylight jobs.

Remote openers

The remote opener is convenient, but it can be a weak spot. Old-style remote openers use manual switches to set an access combination. They’re very easy to crack. Someone with receiving equipment can lurk nearby and record the combination when you open the door.

Modern openers generate a new code each time they’re used, so recording them doesn’t help a burglar. They generate billions of possible codes, so trying them all isn’t possible any more. If you’ve got an ancient opener, upgrading it to the state of the art will make it vastly safer against break-ins.

Safety release lever

The safety release lever is a weak point. That’s the lever above your garage door on the inside, which you can use to open it if the power fails. A thief could run a coat hanger over the door, snag the lever, and open the garage. You’ll hear this called the “six second break-in,” because that’s how long it takes a seasoned burglar.

There are ways to guard against it without adding a lock. Usually the release has a pull cord on it. This is a convenience for you, but also for burglars. For maximum safety, you can remove the cord. You can use a plastic tie to secure the lever to the carriage assembly. It’s illegal to install a garage door this way, but you can do what you like with your own door.

Covering your windows helps, both because it makes it harder to see what could be worth stealing and because it keeps burglars from seeing exactly where the safety release is.

Is the opener enough of a lock?

How secure is a garage door locked by an electrical opener? This depends on a lot of factors. The most common door type is the sectional roll-up door. The opener’s towing arm holds the door shut. Heavy-duty models will hold the door better than cheap ones.

With a decent opener, there’s no pressing need for an additional lock on the door. What’s important is a remote that uses current tech, so burglars won’t be able to crack it.

There are locks you can put on a garage door for extra security, but they carry some risk. If a second lock holds your door shut when you’re opening it with the remote, it could strain the opener and damage the mechanism.

The garage door as access to your house

The real weakness of a garage door is that it’s so easy to forget to close it. If you’re driving away in a hurry, you might press the button and not notice if it fails to close. Or you might press it an extra time by accident, or forget to press it at all. A sticky door might fail to close as you’re driving away. However it happens, garage doors get left open a lot.

This means that the passage between your garage and your home needs to be as well-protected as your front door. A deadbolt door lock on it, the same kind (and even the same key) that you use on your front door, will do the job.

Let’s review the precautions you can take, in order of increasing value.

  • Adding a second lock to the garage door. This has its inconveniences and creates some risk of damage to the opener, but it will make it harder to break in.
  • Making it harder to use the safety release lever from the outside, by several different methods. This defeats a common break-in tactic.
  • Upgrading your outdated opener to a modern one that isn’t easily spoofed.
  • Putting a keyed deadbolt lock on the entrance to your house. This should be a basic precaution in every house where the garage connects to the inside.

If you’re installing a garage door or need one serviced in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, we can help. Please contact us so we can discuss what you need.