CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Police say your garage is one of the most vulnerable entries into your home. It's also not an entry many homeowners think to add extra security to. However, Youtube videos that have been viewed thousands of times are showing how thieves can break into homes, through the garage, with just one tool.
Mike Cardarelle, from Overhead Door Company, said all it takes is a wire coat hanger and it can be done in the blink of an eye.
"If somebody really knows what they're doing they can break in within six seconds," said Cardarelle.
He showed us exactly how they're snaking the hanger up the garage door. Once the hanger is inside, Cardarelle said thieves can easily hook to the rope that manually opens the garage and with one strong pull - pop your garage open.
"If it doesn't have a rope on there, they can pull on the emergency disconnect, on the actual motor itself, and give that a yank and open the door," said Cardarelle.
Not to worry, homeowners. Cardarelle said there's a simple and cheap fix to fend off intruders using the coat hanger trick.
Cardarelle said you can put wire through the holes drilled into the garage door carriage assembly. Then, just twist it together really tight. That way, if someone comes in with a coat hanger again and tries to pull, the wires won't allow it to disengage.
If you don't have a wire, Cardarelle said you can also use zip tie you can use a piece of rope just about anything to keep that connection tight.
Charleston Police Sgt. Trevor Shelor warns that you, and emergency officials, need to be able to undo it in a moments notice.
"Make sure that you, your spouse and your older children are able to pop that," said Sgt. Shelor.
Sgt. Shelor says the material you use to tie off the carriage assembly should be strong enough to resist the tool, but not so strong that you couldn't get out in an emergency.
Cardarelle says there's other simple things you can do to keep your garage safe.
"A lot of people like to drive off before their door is all the way down and it will bounce back up on them and they wont realize it," said Cardarelle.
Also, don't forget about the garage door keypad.
"There have been people going around with finger print powder and black lights and they can see which ones they've entered," said Cardarelle. 'If you change your code every couple of months, you,ve got finger prints all over all the numbers."
Sgt. Shelor warns that protecting your home from thieves who use the garage as a vantage spot shouldn't stop at the garage door.
"A lot of people for one reason or another don't go the extra step and bolt the door into the house from the garage," said Sgt. Shelor. "If the person makes it into the garage, not only do they have their pick of everything in your garage to take, they have the access to the rest of the house."
Sgt. Shelor says he hasn't seen this particular type of crime in Charleston - more commonly they get reports of people kicking in the side door to the garage.
He says the most common way thieves are breaking into homes is still through unlocked windows and doors.