Introduction: Prevent Garage Door Break-Ins
Videos at YouTube show how it is done.
- Straighten a coat hanger, but leave a curved hook on one end.
- 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.)
- Catch the emergency release lever (yellow arrow) and gently pull until the lever releases.
- 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.
Step 1: Two Solutions
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
- 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
Step 2: The Pattern
I marked around the end of the release lever to determine the pattern I needed. (Actually, I found later I had not made the pattern large enough and had to move the line indicated by the blue arrow about an inch farther in the direction of the blue arrow.) Notice that I also marked the position of two holes in the adjustable door arm. See the yellow arrows. These holes will be used to mount my shield pieces.
Step 3: Make the Shield Covers and Spacers
The thickness of the traveler requires spacers from 3/4 inch pine, one on each side of the door connecting bar. I drilled 1/4 inch holes. The holes in the door connecting bar are considerably larger. The smaller bolts in larger holes will allow some fine adjustment at the end.
Step 4: Shields in Place
I used 1/4 inch bolts, washers, and self-locking nuts to mount the shields and spacers on the door connecting bar. Any attempt to hook the release lever with a hooked wire will fail because the release lever is protected from both sides. The hooked wire will simply slide off of the Masonite side shields. This provides most of the needed protection against break-in, but it is still possible someone might hook the red release cord and manage to pull it. I did move the large tag down so it would not provide a way to hook the release.
The second photo shows that the shields are not in the way of anything when the garage door opener operates.
Step 5: Rope Protection
After quite a bit of thought, I decided to install a steel bolt that restricts the movement of the release lever. I want to keep someone from opening the release lever by pulling on the rope.
After thinking back on decades of garage door opener use, I can remember times I needed to release the garage door from its opener track so I could troubleshoot a problem. Never have I needed to pull the emergency rope as if seconds count and doing so would prevent some catastrophic event. In this case, "emergency" is a relative term. I can easily get a step stool from another corner of the garage and remove the bolt.
To place the bolt, I viewed the end of the release lever and placed the drill bit so it appeared to be just under the bottom of the release lever. After drilling the first hole, I let the top of the bit rest on the bottom of the release lever and pushed the second hole through the other Masonite shield.
I considered some kind of pin I could remove by pulling a cord, but it would either fit loosely enough that the bad guys might be able make the lever release, or they could hook and remove it to gain entry, after all.
My solution to the problem of the six second garage door break-in is not perfect. It is secure, but it requires getting and using a step stool when I would need to release the traveler from the door arm.