In 2016 there were an estimated 7,919,035 property crimes in the United States alone and one break-in occurs every 18 seconds. While you may already have a home security system in place, you’re likely forgetting about one important area: your garage.

Garage break-ins account for 9 percent of all residential break-ins and many of these break-ins happen because homeowners feel a false sense of security when it comes to their garage. You may be guilty of leaving the interior door unlocked, thinking that the garage door is adequate security against intruders. Worse, you may often forget to close the garage door, making your home even more vulnerable.

The good news is that you can keep your garage as safe as your home with a few small changes. Add the following tasks to your to-do list to make sure you keep yourself, your family and your home secure.

Reinforce Entrance Security

Making the doorways that lead into your garage more secure is another step that will reduce the chance of a break-in. This is especially true if the garage is old and the doors haven’t been updated in many years you’re likely relying on rusty hinges that are easy to break and a lock that’s not as secure as it needs to be.

To secure these outside entry points, check out a device like the Door Devil, which boosts the doorjamb making it nearly impossible to kick the door down. Starting at less than $100, this is cheaper than changing the locks and can be installed on your own. You can check out their installation tutorial to get started.

Keep Your Openers and Keys Secure

An intruder can easily access your garage door opener, starting with seeing it on the dashboard of your car that’s sitting in the driveway. Even if you keep your car locked, they may be able to break in, giving them easy access, which is why the first step in keeping your garage safe is:

Whether it’s a key or a remote, always make sure you have a spare with you physically. If you can, avoid keeping your garage remote in your car. Have it made into a keychain instead, according to the guide, Garage Safekeeping Tips.

Another pro tip: When going away on a long trip, disconnect or unplug the opener. Put a deadbolt from the inside for extra precaution. At-home or away, your garage will always be safe.

Conceal Your Garage Windows

When intruders can’t see what’s inside, they may be less likely to break-in because they don’t know if it’s worth it. There are several ways to conceal your garage windows, including using a frosted spray paint, designed to be used on windows that will prevent anyone from seeing inside.

You can also buy stick-on frosted panels that you can place on the windows from the inside. A third option is to simply hang curtains or shades from the windows and keep the shade closed at all times. Don’t forget to cover door windows as well.

Install Lights

Burglars and robbers like to work in the dark of night because it feels safer; they can move undetected. Motion detector lights take this away from would-be intruders. They’re also easy to install and can quickly deter someone who has plans of getting inside your home. A bright light shining while they try to kick down a door or crawl through a window makes your home a risky target.

Secure The Emergency Release

If you didn’t know already, your garage has an emergency release that’s that little red string and handle that hang down inside the garage. How is this a security risk if it’s inside? This safety release mechanism can be tripped from outside your garage door with nothing more than a coat hanger. By disengaging the safety release on your door, a thief can simply lift the door and gain access to your home, explain experts at Its Tactical.

Luckily, you can secure it with something you may already have at home: a zip tie. This locks down your emergency release so would-be thieves can’t easily grab it and gain entry. Check out the tutorial from Its Tactical for installing this safety measure while keeping the emergency release available for you to use.

Get Secure

Though your garage can provide an easy way for intruders to enter your home, implementing any of these steps will decrease the chance that your house is their next target. Add them to your to-do list so you’ll sleep with greater peace of mind each night.

BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer and consultant working with a wide variety of businesses in the home security and real estate industry. She’s written for AARP, Lifehack, and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect LinkedIn.

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