Are you giving burglars the key to your home?
I’m lucky enough to know, both personally and through friends, some very nice guys in the local police departments. So when they reveal methods of criminals, I am all ears. This time, it was a jailed burglar who gave up the goods on how he committed garage door burglaries.
Like most people with a garage door, I had the garage door keypad fitted. It seemed like a handy thing to have and I’ve used it countless times. With almost 10,000 possible combinations, I felt that it was a safe bet and no burglar would take the time to crack that code. But that safety is a façade. My contact in the Aurora Police Department, here in Colorado, recounted his conversation with the crook.
“He explained that skin, particularly fingertips, emit oils on the keypads when the code is punched in; e.g. 1-4-5-6. He said that other keys on the pads that are never used become dirty with wind, rain and dust. Using a flashlight with a blue or red lens, or even using angles in daylight hours, you can see where the 1-4-5-6 numbers appear clean and/or shiny with use.
Once he could determine the four most used or clean numbers he could “crack” the code in a few minutes or less, leaving no signs of forced entry.”
That’s how simple, and quick, it really is. And how this burglar ripped off many homes. I looked at my own key pad and sure enough, it didn’t take me long to figure out the four digits I use.
But the story doesn’t end there. If the garage doesn't have a keypad, another way to get in is by using a hook to reach up over the garage door and grab the emergency release rope. Just as quick and simple, a household wire hanger will do that job very nicely.
So, what can you do?
When it comes to the emergency rope, remove it. I did a long time ago as I’d heard about this from a neighbor. Just leave a hook handy inside the garage somewhere that you can use to release the door in an emergency.
As for the keypad, well, if you’re really freaked out just remove it. It’s a little inconvenient but if peace of mind is more important to you then you’ll learn to live without it.
If you must keep your keypad, all I can think of is to clean the keys weekly with some good degreaser and cleanser. Maybe something like orange clean. That should at least stop the clues from showing.
And one more nugget of information before you run off and start scrubbing. If you’re a fan of any kind of show like C.S.I. then you may be interested to know that the fingerprint lab finds it extremely difficult to lift prints from these keypads. It’s something to do with the surface condition and texture. So, not only may you be cleaned out, the criminal could leave no trace.
However, if you follow the advice in this article you will hopefully never have to deal with that eventuality. Stay safe folks.