The Ultimate Guide to Garage Security
It’s not just cars that are now kept in garages, it’s often a wide range of valuables including power tools, sports equipment, and a range of other things a burglar would like to get their hands on. Read our guide below to discover how to secure your garage!
Whether your garage is attached to your property or separated from your house, the contents could be at risk if the garage is not secured properly, leaving you and your valuables vulnerable to attack. It’s important to consider all aspects of garage security to ensure your overall home security is complete.
When you think of garage doors, you may be thinking of the standard up and over manual ones, however you’ll be surprised to learn that there are actually different types which hold different features.
Up and Over Retractable Garage Doors
One of most popular doors here in the UK, these garage doors lift up and over and retract back into the garage so that the door essentially disappears. These are often manual doors which are then pulled back down by a pull cord connected to the lower half of the garage door.
Up and Over Canopy Garage Doors
Very similar to the up and over retractable garage door however when opened they extend past the wall of the garage and create an overhang canopy.
Sectional Garage Doors
Consisting of panelled sections which are connected by hinges, this door will roll up and down and bends over a curved portion of the track to then sit parallel to the roof of the garage when completely opened. These doors are often automatic and controlled with a remote.
Roll-Up Garage Doors
These are often seen more in commercial spaces where space is limited, the roll-up garage is often made of steel slat sections that roll around a drum which sits above the door opening.
Slide to the Side Garage Doors
As the name implies, instead of retracting towards the ceiling of the garage it retracts around one side of the garage. This is a good option for garages with little head room.
Side-Hinged Garage Doors
Much like a normal door, these are hinged at the side and open outwards. Resembling French doors, these are often made of wooden but can also be made of steel.
Garage Door Locks
There are multiple different locks that you can have on a garage door which will determine your garage security and will depend on what type of garage you have. Below we detailed all the different garage locks you can have and whether or not they are worth it!
T-handle / T-bar Locks
Called as such because of the shape of the handle, a T-handle is the most common lock found on a manual garage door and allows you to lock and unlock the garage from the outside. The lock is connected to bolts on the door’s tracks which when in the locked position stop the door from being opened. When a key is then fitted into the keyhole on the handle and turned the bolts are released allowing the door to be opened.
Advantages of T-Handle Locks
- Cost effective
- Easy to use
- Easy to replace
Disadvantages of T-Handle Locks
- Not the most secure lock
- Can easily be broken off
Sliding Drop / Cane Bolts
Installed into the lower inner corners on a garage door, when engaged the bolts shoot out into a slot that is drilled into the wall or floor, securing the door in place. These type of locks are often used as extra security for the t-handle locks.
Advantages of Sliding Drop Bolts
- Adds more security to a door
- Cost effective
- Inaccessible and invisible from outside
- Can be used in conjunctional with other locking systems to create a more secure garage door
Disadvantages of Sliding Drop Bolts
- When the bolts are locked, they can’t be unlocked from the outside
- Drilled holes are required to install the lock.
Secured with a padlock at the bottom of the garage door, the door is anchored to the floor or somewhere close where it makes it difficult to lift the door up.
Advantages of Ground Locks
- Cost effective
- Stops the door from being lifted up by a crow bar or car jack
- Can be installed with other security locks
Disadvantages of Ground Locks
- Depending on the ground lock, it could be cut off or even picked.
- Space is required outside of the garage to install this type of lock.
Usually, the locks found on roller shutters, pin locks consist of a long pin which is inserted into the door itself on the guide rails and locked to prevent the door being rolled up.
Advantages of Pin Locks
- Cost effective
- Prevents the door being opened by a crow bar or car jack
Disadvantages of Pin Locks
- They require very specific installation
Garage Door Defenders
One of the most common secondary locks fitted to a garage is a door defender. These are placed immediately in front of the garage to secure the bottom of the garage door to the ground with a large arm that stretches partially across the door itself. When locked into position the bar restricts movement of the door.
Advantages of Garage Door Defenders
- Padlock is protected by the defender itself
- Designed to work as a visual deterrent
- Resistant against brute force attack
Disadvantages of Garage Door Defenders
- Significant space is required to install
- Can be very expensive
An Expert Locksmith’s Opinion Garage Locks
We asked one of our expert Locksmiths Tom what he would recommend for securing you garage door. He said he would use a Pacri Bolt. Pacri Bolts are an additional security measure that are mounted on the back of your garage door and are bolted through with coach bolts. The bolt that secures your garage is around 70mm and it locks into it behind the frame of the garage door. They come with a 4 sided crucifix key for extra security.
The other garage security measure Tom recommended was a Garage Door Defender. There are a few styles and designs to choose from with selecting a garage door defender, but they essentially all do the same thing. A garage door defender is bolted and anchored into the ground in the middle of the door, to provide maximum security. It prevents someone entering your garage by stopping the door from outwardly swinging open. Our Locksmith recommends this because it means that even if the locks are compromised, an intruder should not be able to open the door.
Automatic Garage Doors
Another option for garage doors are ones that are completely automatic. These are becoming increasingly popular for people in the UK as they are not only convenient but often have security locking systems too.
Opened and closed with the touch of a button that then activates the motor installed, when closed the garage door automatically locks as the mechanism is designed to constantly push the door downwards, until you reactivate it.
How are Garage Doors Forced Open?
There are lots of ways that a burglar can break into your garage. The older the door is, the more likely it is to be targeted, as thieves know they are not as secure as the new modern doors. We are not saying new garage doors are burglar proof, but their modern features make it more difficult for someone to break in.
Older garage doors are at risk of having their locks drilled or cut out completely, whereas new doors protect against this. Older garage doors may also be vulnerable at the top, where the door meets the frame. Modern doors are fitted with a special bar that protects this weak spot from intruders using a crow bar to gain entry.
Types of garage doors that offer more protection are roller or sectional garage doors, and this is down to the way they open. The only way to break into a garage door in this style is to physically cut a hole in the door itself. This is labour intensive and extremely noisy, so this would put off any potential intruder who’s looking for a quick chance taking. However, a more experienced burglar may still find a way in to your garage.
What is Fishing?
Fishing is a common technique used by thieves to enter someone’s garage. They push the top of the door inwards, to create a gap, then insert a wire with a hook on the end and try to trigger the release cord. Once the cord is hooked, one good pull will open the garage door allowing them access.
How to Prevent Fishing
You can make a garage door shield which makes grabbing the release cord with a hook almost impossible. You can use a scrap piece of wood and attach it to the openers arm and secure it with two nails. Make sure you use a relatively weak piece of wood, so if anything (such as your car) runs into the door, it will just break, rather than damage the opening mechanism.
Garage Door Security Features
When you buy a modern garage door, you can be confident that they will come with a number of security features that come as standard in all garage door styles and designs. Garage door manufacturers have learnt over the years, the different methods a burglar uses to gain entry illegally and updated their designs and security features accordingly.
You’re likely to find the following security features on any new manual garage door brought from a reputable manufacturer today:
- Two locks – one on each side.
- The capacity for two further locks should this be chosen as an upgrade.
- Strong bars which protect the locks from being pried open from the outside.
Side Garage Doors
Often on larger garages or ones that are connected to the main part of the house, there will be a side garage door. One that will let you into the garage without having to open the main garage door. These doors are generally just normal doors and should always be secured to maximise the security of your garage. Find out how to secure them here!
Garage Window Security
You might think that the garage windows aren’t that important, but in fact securing your windows could be the difference between someone targeting your garage or leaving it alone. Most burglaries are often opportunistic so they will see an opportunity and then take it, unsecured windows that show what’s in the garage and that could easily be broken into can provide burglars with an opportunity. Find out even more about window security here!
How to Secure Garage Windows
1. Cover your windows
Consider making your windows non-transparent so that they no longer offer burglars a view of any of your valuables. You can do this by installing curtains or installing non-adhesive window films on the window. Both can easily be applied yourself and at minimal expensive.
2. Install Good Window Locks
This might seem obvious but making sure that your windows have a good, sturdy lock on them, makes your window more secure and more resistant to attack.
3. Reinforce the Window Glass
Most glass, unless security glass, will smash upon impact. Consider installing protective window security film which will hold the glass fragments together when the glass is smashed so that a burglar won’t be able to get through the window even if they attack it.
4. Install Window Sensors
If your windows are not fully secured you can place window sensors on them so that should the window be opened, you can be alerted on a smart device or if you have them connected to an alarm system it will set it off.
5. Plant Thorny Bushes
This might seem odd, but preventative measures can help secure your windows and one of the best ways is to plant thorny bushes below them if you can. This makes it more awkward for burglars to try and reach them and makes it more difficult for them.
General Garage Security Advice
1. Extend Your Home Security System
If you have a household alarm fitted, consider extending the system into the garage area so that should someone enter, you will be notified and the alarm will sound. Likewise, advertising your garage is secured with an alarm will act as a deterrent in itself.
2. Get Extra Protection
Fit a garage door blocker on the outside of the door. This is designed to make it harder for your garage door to be forced open and once again is a great visual deterrent!
3. Get Secure Locks
Consider fitting a pair of garage door locks that are fitted either vertically or horizontally and can be locked either from the inside or outside of the garage. This adds extra protection to your garage and helps to keep your valuables safe!
4. Lock Up your Valuables
Consider purchasing loop cables. These have a long braided steel cable and a two-bolt anchor locking point. These fix to garage walls or floors and can be passed through expensive property such as quad bikes, etc. Some cables can even be alarmed. Likewise, consider locking up any power tools you might have stored in the garage with loop cables or even locking them in a secure cabinet.
5. Keep your Car in Garage
Often if a burglar has broken into your garage, they aren’t looking to steal your car, as it is too obvious, a bigger risk and can be easily traced, so they will look for smaller things of value like power tools and bikes. Oddly however if your car is in the garage, it makes it harder for the thief to move around to find and potentially take your valuables.
Additional Garage Security
You can buy the most expensive garage door on the market, but it still won’t be 100% burglar proof. So, it’s worth taking some other precautions to keep your home safe.
You might think about installing a security light in close proximity to your garage. This acts as a deterrent for burglars as they like the cover of darkness to conceal their identity and to reduce the risk of them getting caught. With strategically placed lighting, you can give burglars less places to hide and make your garage a riskier target.
Many burglars strike at a property when residents are distracted, so the installation of motion-triggered security lights will ensure any movement around your garage will not go unnoticed and is an even more effective way to utilise security lighting!
Garage Alarm System
If you keep valuable items in your garage then it might be worth investing in an alarm system, this works much like a home alarm. If anyone forces their way in to your garage, or someone enters who doesn’t know the code a loud alarm will sound, to alert you someone has entered. Even just installing a dummy security alarm may be enough to deter an opportunistic burglar away from your garage.
Wall/Floor Anchors and Expandable Bolts
Wall and floor anchors are useful if you are storing a bike or anything else large in your garage, as even if a burglar does get in, there is no way they will be able to remove anything attached to a floor or wall anchor (unless they have brought a chainsaw!). Extendable bolts work in the same way, as it gives you a strong fixed point embedded into a wall to attach your belongings.
When looking at improving your garage and outbuilding security, do not forget to include them in your home insurance cover. Calculate the total value of the contents in your garage and other outbuildings, and whether your home insurance pay-out will be sufficient compensation. If not, consider discussing additional cover with your insurer. In the unfortunate event of a break in, you want to be in the position to claim for the goods missing.
For more advice about Home Insurance policies, read our Ultimate Guide to Insurance!
Garage Security Quick Tips from the Police
Up-and-over Garage Doors
- A single lock fitted to the bottom centre of the door may not prevent the corners from being bent over, especially on older doors. Consider fitting locks to both sides of the door. Make sure it doesn’t interfere with your car’s wheels.
- There are also many specially designed garage door locks that you can fit to the floor. This will also prevent the door being lifted from the bottom.
- Fit a pair of good quality bolts to either side of the bottom of garage door.
Side-Hinged Garage Doors
- Make sure that your door is in good condition and the frame is fixed to the structure.
- Use coach bolts on external hinges to prevent them being unscrewed.
- If your doors have glazing, consider installing bars behind them.
- Drop bolts fitted to the bottom of the door will not only prevent the door swinging back when open but will add some extra reinforcement to the door when bolted shut.
Automatic Garage Doors
- Do not carry out any work on automatic garage doors without consulting the manufacturer. Extra work may void any warranty and could cause the door to malfunction.
- The minimum standard for automatic doors is LPS 1175 and rated SR1 or higher or STS 202 (BR1).
Garage Security FAQs
- Install a security light.
- Install an alarm system.
- Install a garage defender.
- Install wall/floor anchors and expandable bolts
Roller doors are considered safe, if you install a double leaf aluminium roller door, as single leaf steel doors are weaker.
Roller shutter garage doors will also be more secure if you make sure they are made with quality materials, so don’t be tempted to buy the cheapest option you find. Also, it’s important that you find a manufacturer that has been producing doors for a few years and are well established.
How easy a garage is to break into will depend on a few different factors; age and condition of the door, where the garage is located and what security is in place. To make sure your garage is secure you will need to check the condition of the door and install a quality lock.
Yes. You should always lock your garage door. This not only keeps anything in your garage secured but also helps to ensure the overall security of your home.