CrimeTracker 10: Check Your Garage Door


In a typical night, it doesn't take long for Hilliard Police Officer Brandon Long to find an open garage for any thief to just walk in.

"It invites people to come in. It's more or less a shopping spree," he said. "We've had people say they've been told by other people -- hey go to this neighborhood or go to that neighborhood for some opportunity."

So instead of closing the garage door to help out the homeowners who have no idea, Officer Long wakes them up.

Tim Gilligan, a homeowner in Hilliard, was one person Officer Long awoke in the middle of the night. He said he felt a little bit embarrassed when Officer Long knocked on his door.

"I wasn't sure what to think," Gilligan said. "I mean, are all the kids in the house? That's what took so long to get me down here. I'm going to go check their rooms too but, yea it was a little unnerving. But obviously it is of my own doing."

Sometimes people think they shut the garage door, but Officer Long says technology can get in the way.

"Some times they thought they closed it, but some times something is blocking that sensor," he said. "So instead of waiting to watch that garage door go all the way down, they just hit the button and assumed it was going to close and walked inside and the sensor might have been blocked and went back up."

In one night of patrol, Hilliard Police can find five or more open garages in just one neighborhood. City wide, they can find up to a dozen in a night.

"It's important we're helping each other out and we're all policing for that because the more we can control this the less crime we're going to have and the less people we're going to have coming to our neighborhoods," Officer Long said.

Hilliard Police also offer some tips to help keep your home more secure:

  • Don’t leave your garage door open unless you are in it – Even if you are going to the back of the home.  It only takes a few seconds for someone to pop into your garage and grab something.
  • Check to ensure your garage door is closed before you leave for work and prior to going in for the night.  Sometimes garage doors will be triggered to open again when something crosses the path of the safety feature at the bottom of the door…make sure the door is all the way down.
  • Put a deadbolt on the door between your house and garage.  Is it really that much of an inconvenience to use a key each time you come home?
  • Lock the door located between the interior of the garage and the interior of your home.  Ensure you have a strong, sturdy door made out of solid-core wood or reinforced steel and install an Anti-Kick device on it!  Leaving this door open is an open invitation to come in! 
  • If you hear an alarm or dogs barking, investigate from the safety of your home. Victims have said that they know the exact time something happened because they remember their dog barking or heard a car alarm.  Unfortunately, they didn’t think it was important at the time.
  • Don’t leave the garage door remote in your vehicle – If a thief breaks into your car and steals the remote, he has a way into your home. 
  • Invest in a keychain remote opener – Stop using that remote you clip to your visor and get a keychain remote opener that you can leave on your keys.
  • Secure your garage door emergency release – It’s easy to throw some zip-ties on your emergency release and still retain its intended function. 
  • Install a wide-angle peephole in the door between your house and your garage – You’ll at least be able to see what’s going on if you hear a strange noise, rather than opening the door to find out.
  • Frost or cover your garage windows – Don’t do thieves any favors by enabling them to see when your vehicle is gone. 
  • Padlock the throw latch on your garage door when you’re out of town – If you don’t have a manual lock on your garage door, you can use a c-clamp tightened down on each side of the door track to effectively “lock” down the door. It’s similar to those small window track locks you can buy for your home interior windows.
  • And remember; look out for your neighbor. If you see their garage door up, give them a call.  A burglar picks times and places that offer good targets, but have little chance of getting caught.  You are the best guardian of your property, followed by neighbors, family and friends.