It is easy to break into most home garages in just six seconds. All that is needed is a coat hanger and a little practice.

Videos at YouTube show how it is done. 
  1. Straighten a coat hanger, but leave a curved hook on one end.
  2. Push the hooked end of the wire through the weather seal between the frame of the house and the top of the garage door in the area shown by the red arrow. (It is possible to push some garage doors inward at the top to create a gap large enough to insert one's own hand into the garage.)
  3. Catch the emergency release lever (yellow arrow) and gently pull until the lever releases.
  4. If necessary, hook the red cord and pull it to release it or pull it toward the door where it can be grasped by the hand and pulled.
As concerns the advisability of providing a "how to" on breaking into a garage with a coat hanger, over 1 million people have already viewed the video on YouTube. Some of them live on a street near you, and they are not all honest. The emphasis here is on how you can prevent being a victim of a six second break-in.


Step 1: Two solutions

One of the available videos shows an easy solution to this security problem. Notice the two green arrows. Place a thinner nylon zip tie through the hole at the end of the release lever and through a hole in the body of the traveler (upper green arrow, technically a "screw drive shuttle assembly"). Cinch the zip tie up. It will be strong enough to prevent manipulation of the release lever by a wire with a hook, but will break if the owner pulls downward on the red release cord with both hands and a little body weight.

That may work on many garage door openers, but this one is a Genie screw drive opener, and it has no hole in the traveler. I could drill a hole through the body of the traveler, but I would want to know more about the internal structure of the traveler so I do not weaken it or damage something inside.

My plan is to add a shield around the release lever. That process begins with making a cardboard pattern. Notice that I have trimmed one corner of a piece of cardboard so the edge is now parallel to the opener's track. The gap indicated by the orange arrow is smaller than it appears. A spring clamp temporarily holds the cardboard in place. See the yellow arrow. (The release lever is in the released position in the photo.)

  • Cardboard for a pattern
  • Masonite
  • 3/4 inch pine
  • 2 bolts 1/4 x 3 inch with washers and self-locking nuts
  • 3/8 x 5 inch bolt and nut
  • Marking pen
  • Rule
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Wrenches
<p>Sorry for the delayed response! Anyway, the problem isn't the &quot;smash and grab&quot; thieves that leave both Noise and Evidence of their intrusion, alerting you of their presence. Your risk is waking up in the middle of the night with an intruder in your bedroom, because they entered your garage and thus home without alerting you in anyway (smashing glass). Food for thought...</p>
<p>@Phi:<br>I see two types of thieves: <br>1) &quot;Smash and Grab&quot; Thieves that want to be in &amp; out of your home quickly. They don't care about breaking windows or making noise because they will be gone before the police arrive.<br>2) Contemplated Thieves looking for an opportunity in which they can be discrete. Something allowing them to be undetected while they take their time and grab as many valuables and leaving no sign of intrusion. </p><p>Then there's a 3rd category that is really scary to consider...Home Invasions. Individuals that want to break into your home undetected while you are there, hoping you don't hear them while your'e sleeping or watching TV. </p><p>So while I agree to your statement in respect to the Smash and Grab mentality, I would argue that it doesn't apply to the other two scenarios. </p><p>As for the break a window and grab the rope, you might want to consider buying some spray on window tint from an auto parts store to help hide your garage door interior. </p>
<p>Zip Ties are really dangerous, no Fire Dept in the country would recommend using one. See our Zip Tie section on our Garage Defender website. We have a much safer solution. Check us out at <a href="http://www.GarageDefender.com" rel="nofollow"> http://www.GarageDefender.com</a></p><p>Alex Wolfram<br>Garage Defender, LLC<br>Solution to the 6 Second Garage Door Break In<br><a href="http://www.GarageDefender.com" rel="nofollow">www.GarageDefender.com</a></p>
<p>your company's device is ingenious. But, when I was discussing garage door break ins with someone, he said most thieves just break a garage door window. As good as your device is, I do not see that it would stop a thief who breaks a window like many garage doors have. </p>
<p>Absolutely brilliant. Best low-cost (or otherwise-) solution I've yet seen. Many thanks. Should be on SharkTank :) </p>
Thank you. From what I see, Shark Tank is for people who want to market a product. I am not doing that.
<p>This was a really good post. I love my garage door, but I can be a worry-wort, and I wondered if this could be a problem. I was concerned that someone could manage to pry the door open if they had the right tools. We are getting a new garage door, and now that I have read this, I can rest easier.</p><p>http://www.bestdoors.com.au</p>
This is an interesting i'ble. I've never seen anything quite like this before. In my experience (garage door tech 10yrs) most thieves just break the glass and grab the release cord. The truth is if they really want to get in, they'll find a way. <br><br>If you set your trolley back too far and make your operator arm longer, you run the risk of damaging your top panel. Your operator arm is supposed to be nearly straight up and down in the closed position. That way, when your door starts up your arm is pulling up before it pulls back. The arm in the picture should be shortened up a bit to prevent this same type of damage (glass sections are expensive). I would also suggest you lube those springs with some light silicone-based lubricant spray. Looks like its never been done (should be done at least once a year).
<p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/member/haikuordie/" rel="nofollow"><strong>haikuordie</strong></a><strong> said, </strong>&quot;I would also suggest you lube those springs with some light silicone-based lubricant spray. Looks like its never been done (should be done at least once a year).&quot;</p><p>Good advice <strong style="font-size: 15.0px;"><a href="http://www.instructables.com/member/haikuordie/" rel="nofollow" style="font-size: 15.0px;">haikuordie</a></strong>. One of my springs broke on a 10' high door. Luckily, I was not under it, but it does not have an electric lift and it came down HARD. I do believe that's why it broke so I keep the new spring lubed after that.</p>
<p>Thank you for the information, especially about the silicone lubrication on the spring. </p>
<p>Good instructable. I gives me ideas to think of securing my garage. I do have to use my release a few times a year. Power outages etc. </p>
Thank you. I think I use my release even less than that, maybe once every five to seven years or less.
<p>Thanks Phil this is fascinating. I going to implement on my garage door. I have a little metal rod with a cotter pin on the end. It's left over from some other project I cant recall. I'm going to substitute that for the bolt. Thanks again.</p>
Thank you for looking. I have told people I do not need the perfect protection against break in. I only need something better than what my neighbors have so vandals go to their houses instead of mine.
I like this, thanks for the 'ible. perhaps you should link some of the videos so we can see what's going on.
There is a link to a local news story in step 1 and it leaves very little to the imagination, plus it demonstrates a fix I mentioned. For more, search for the six second garage break in at YouTube. Thank you for looking.
<p>This needs a laser gun.</p>
<p>This is a very useful idea. Easy to implement, and it looks like an effective defense against a quick break-in. Such events have happened in the central Iowa region, too.</p>
<p>Thank you for commenting. I grew up near Monticello between Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. I am sorry to hear this is happening in Iowa now, too.</p>
<p>I made the traveller to door connecting metal bracket as long as possible while still ensuring that I have enough door travel. This makes it a lot harder to wedge the top of the door open.</p><p>Thanks for the heads-up</p>
<p>Thank you for the comment. Anything you do to make your door more secure than that of your neighbor will send them to his house, instead.</p>

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Bio: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying ... More »
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