12 News Defenders: Thief proof your home - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

12 News Defenders: Thief proof your home

Slide the zip tie through the hole near the emergency-release cord. Slide the zip tie through the hole near the emergency-release cord.

Garage doors are one of the most vulnerable entrances to your home. Now criminals have found a simple way to deactivate an electric garage door opener, allowing them easier access to your home.

All it takes is a wire hanger. Online videos show how the hanger can be used to hook the opener's emergency release cord. Then, all a criminal has to do is lift the door and they're in.

The 12 News Defenders wanted to see just how easy it really is, so we asked Troy Andaluz with Harris Overhead Door to try it for himself.

Troy has seen the online videos. At first, he admits, it took a few minutes.

"They make it look a lot easier than it is," Andaluz said.

But the second time, it took him just a few seconds.

"With a little practice, it's a four to five second deal," he said.

Thankfully, there is a surprisingly easy fix for this -- something as simple as a plastic zip tie!

Just thread the plastic tie through the hole beneath your garage door opener's emergency release latch. If your model doesn't have a  hole, you may have to drill one.

The zip tie is strong enough to prevent the latch from being pulled open by a hanger.

"It adds about 10 to 15 pounds of pressure, where the hanger would straighten before it broke that zip tie," Andaluz said.

But if YOU need to open the door from the inside, you can still do it by pulling the emergency release a little harder than normal. Your strength will snap the zip tie.

Central Alabama Crime Stoppers Director Tony Garrett says patrol officers watch for garage door break ins, but they're not common in the River Region.

More burglars simply kick in a door or break through a window.

"They're not using a lot of technique. They're just using brute force." Garrett said.

And the best solution for that? Neighborhood involvement, Garrett said. He recommends starting a neighborhood watch program or organizing with your homeowner's association.

"The nosey neighbor concept is still the number one deterrent in crime," Garrett said.

Crime Stoppers also recommends other actions designed to make a burglary more difficult. If a criminal feels it would take too long to enter a home, he might just move on.

Here are some other ways to thief proof your home:

  1. Install an alarm.

  2. Leave a light and/or radio turned on when you aren't at home.

  3. Have a locksmith evaluate the strength of your lock and door frame
Your locksmith can tell you more about metal door frame reinforcements. You can also learn more from this do-it-yourself website

You may also want to consider a door brace, which is designed to prevent a kick-in. Your locksmith can provide more information. Or you can read more from various online companies:

For more home security tips, visit the Central Alabama Crime Stoppers website.

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