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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

The Easiest Way to Break into Your Home

How to Break Into a Garage Door in 10 Seconds

Most of us don’t think about it, but the biggest door to our home is the garage door. If you have an attached garage on your home, then you’ve got a big target that might lead to more trouble than you’ve considered.

The easiest way to break into any home with an attached garage is to disable the garage door.

In fact, this trick is so well known it’s covered by Clint Emerson in his first 100 Deadly Skills book. It’s number 53 Discreetly Open Garage Doors. And as a note, it’s also covered in my book Home Security: The Secure Dad’s Guide.

Gone Fishin’

The problem we’re addressing is called a fishing attack on your garage door. This method gets its name because bad guys are using a hook to fish for a vital flaw in your garage door.

A garage door fishing attack goes like this: A thief approaches your garage door from the outside armed only with a wire coat hanger. He pulls the hanger longways extending the reach of the hanger. He now has a long hook at his disposal.

At the dead center of your garage door, he pushes the hanger between the top of the door and the flashing and begins to fish. He’s looking for your emergency release handle. The red rope with the pull handle hangs down from the motor track. If your garage door has windows on it, this fishing expedition is much easier for the bad guy.

Garage door emergency handle.
Garage door emergency handle.

With his homemade fishing hanger, the bad guy has hooked the emergency release handle with the curve of the hook. Now he pulls back on the now hooked handle and pop! The garage door motor is disabled and the door can now open freely by hand.

In essence, the bad guy has used your own emergency handle against you and has put your garage door in neutral. He lifts the door, slips under it, and gently places it back. He’s now inside in less than a minute.

The Bigger Problem

This can be a problem on several levels. The first is that if you never lock the door between your house and the garage, then you’re in trouble. He can now waltz in and do whatever he wants.

In this scenario, he targeted your home and gained entry in about a minute. Sixty seconds ago you were watching TV in your living room, now you’re fighting off an intruder. See how important this is?

If you do lock your door leading in from the garage, he can now patiently wait for someone to enter. He ducks down behind some boxes, or another car, and waits for a victim to come by.

Plus he can now use a crowbar, ax, or hammer he found in your garage to attack you. Someone can come home and open the garage door, or someone from the house can come out. Either way, they’ll be fighting off an attacker from a place they thought was safe.

The garage is part of your home. It may not be included in the square footage on a house listing, but it’s valuable space to protect.

Stopping a Fishing Attack

So how do we stop this type of attack? Fortunately for us, defending this method of invasion is as easy as it is to perform it. We’re going to need two household items, scissors and packing tape (or zip ties).

The first step is to cut the emergency handle off of the rope that suspends it from the garage door track. We’re only removing the handle, so leave the remaining pull cord in case you have to disengage your garage door for a legitimate reason.

By removing the handle you remove what the fishing hanger hooks to open the door from the outside. The bad guy can fish for the leftover pull cord, but he won’t be able to open the door.

Garage door emergency cord with handle removed.
Garage door emergency cord with handle removed.

You may be wondering about the lever that the emergency handle acuates to release the garage door from the track. Yes, a bad guy can hook that lever above the pull cord to open the door. It’s harder to do, but it can be done with time and experience. Or if you have windows in your garage door it’s not that big of a deal to hook.

So that’s where our packing tape comes in. If the lever is neutral you can tape it in the upward position. Make sure to tape the tip of the lever so there is no way a hook can get in there.

Garage door emergecy level taped. It will still function with a hard pull.
Garage door emergecy level taped. It will still function with a hard pull.

This won’t affect how it works, but it will keep it from being hooked with a hanger. If there are holes in this area, you can use a small zip tie to keep the lever from being pulled open with the hanger.

Regardless of which method you use, the emergency function should still work for you inside the garage, you’ll just have to pull a bit harder. This is a small price to pay in order to protect the largest door on your home.

The good news is that you have stuff laying around the house that can fix this issue. Plus you don’t have to be a security expert to solve this problem. If I can do it, you can do it.

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Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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