Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Garage doors susceptible to thieves
Celina police chief warns of dangers
By Amy Kronenberger
A recent theft in Celina has opened the eyes of authorities and residents to a way a burglar can break into a garage.
A Celina man was arrested last week for stealing a pickup truck from a Bruns Avenue garage after he reportedly slid a hangar or wire with a hook through the top of the garage door to disable the emergency release latch. The man then pulled up the garage door and entered the home.
Several Internet sites show exactly how to accomplish the task.
"Unfortunately, the Internet is full of ways to defeat locks and lock systems," Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser said. "But the flip side of that is it also shows ways to defeat burglars who are trying to defeat those systems."
The simplest ways to prevent this type of break-in is to cover any garage windows and tie up the release latch, Slusser said. Windows in a garage door make the break-in easier as the burglar can see where the release is located, he said.
One Internet video recommends using a zip tie to secure the release lever. The video says the zip tie would prevent a burglar from releasing the latch with a hanger but it would still break if pulled hard enough in the event of an emergency.
Not everyone agrees that is a good idea.
Jeff Kunk, a sales and repair specialist with Denny's Door Company, Celina, said a zip tie could cause a problem in an emergency situation.
"In an emergency, you're going to break the pull cord before you break the zip tie," he said.
Kunk now sells easy-to-install security boxes that encase the trolly system, protecting the release. He ordered the systems after hearing about the latest break-in.
"I thought about designing something myself, but then I found Secure Shield," he said. "This is a whole piece customers can easily install, and it guards the entire trolly system."
Customers also can purchase remote systems that turn on lights in the house and send text or e-mail messages if the door has been opened, he said.
Some higher-end models are now sold with the emergency release latch internalized, eliminating any threat, Kunk said.
"But if people don't want to spend money, I think duct tape is basically going to be the best thing you can do," he said.
He warned not to tape around the entire trolly, which would impede the movement of the garage door. Duct tape also would be difficult to remove in an emergency situation.
Pat Moeller, owner of Moeller Door and Window outside St. Henry, suggested bolting the release lever closed.
"You can disable your quick release by drilling a hole and bolting it, but I would never do it," he said. "Garage doors, for the most part, are very secure."
Slusser said the recent incident in Celina is the first confirmed case where tripping the door release was part of the crime.
"There might have been others, but this is the first confirmed case," he said.
After gaining access to the garage, the thief entered the home to get the keys for the truck. Slusser said the homeowner left the door from the garage to the house unlocked.
Most doors between the garage and the house have no deadbolt, and many people will leave that door unlocked, thinking the garage door will provide enough security, Slusser said.
"But in all honesty, I don't think it (locking the door) will make much of a difference," he said. "Once someone gets into the garage and closes the door behind them, they'll have all the time they need to work at that lock."
Slusser also noted that most garages contain the tools a burglar needs to gain entry through a locked door.
Moeller said he doesn't believe garage door security will become an issue.
"I just think it was a one-hit wonder," he said, talking about the incident. "It would take time to trip the release and there would be commotion. It won't become a common way people break-in."
Moeller and Kunk said no matter how secure a house, a determined burglar will always find a way inside.