• How To Secure Your Garage, Tools, and Expensive Toys

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    As the economy tanks, crime is going up. The maggots will be looking for soft targets and your garage – especially if you leave it open – is one of the softest.

    What can you do to reduce the odds you’ll be victimized?

    Don’t flash what you have

    Try to avoid leaving your garage door open so that everyone who drives or walks by has a full view of your stuff. Even if you’re working in the garage, it’s best to leave the doors down. Don’t park your high-dollar antique vehicle outside, where everyone can see it. Try to keep what you have under wraps – and keep a low profile.

    Keep the door locked

    This is just common sense – but it’s a fact that many thieves never have to break into anything. They just walk right on in – and walk away (or drive away) with your stuff. Use a high quality door lock, plus a deadbolt. If you have an outside electric keypad opener, don’t use an obvious code or tell too many people what the code is.

    If your garage has doors with windows, consider replacing them with solid doors

    As nice as it is to have a door with an upper glass section to let the sun shine in, glass allows a would-be thief to see inside your place – and getting in is as simple as smashing out the window. Same goes for the entry/side door. If it’s one of those that has a large glass panel, easily smashed, consider replacing it with a solid unit that will make life harder on a would-be thief.

    Install a bright light near your garage

    Ideally, one with a motion sensor. The light should be of the floodlight type – and either far enough up or otherwise out of reach that it would take at least a little bit of effort to defeat it by smashing the bulb or some such.

    Consider an alarm system

    You might even get a rate reduction on your homeowner’s (as well as your classic car) insurance. Or get a fake alarm – dummy closed-circuit cameras or blinking red LED lights near doors and windows can accomplish the same thing (but forget about the insurance discount).

    Make your stuff harder to steal

    Tools should be secured in heavy, hard to remove/move (and locked) tool cases; ideally, cases permanently fixed to hard points such as the floor or workbenches. Locked cabinets bolted to the wall studs work well. Garage doors should have heavy metal lock bars and other such devices to make them difficult to open for an unauthorized user.

    Also: There are several ways to discreetly rig a classic car or motorcycle so that it won’t start or is difficult (if not impossible) to move. A kill switch wired into the ignition switch and located in a not visible area under the dash. Or just disconnect the ignition coil (or battery).

    An eye bolt drilled into a concrete floor provides a secure anchor point for a chain to keep your bicycle (or motorcycle) where it belongs.

    ID your stuff

    Mark vehicles (as well as expensive tools/equipment) with a punch, Dremel tool or some such in a not-visible/hard to access place so that if the vehicle (or tools/equipment) is stolen and found later on, the cops will know it was stolen and also, you can prove it is yours.


    Be sure you are insured

    Find out whether your homeowner’s policy covers such things as your tools and equipment. A standard homeowner’s policy on, say, a $250,000 home may not cover your $20,000 worth of tools. Read your policy carefully – and confirm the details with your agent. It’s also smart idea to do a full inventory of everything you have – with pictures or video for back-up in the event you do get robbed and need to verify the extent of your loss.

    Similarly, be absolutely sure your vehicles – especially antique/collectible vehicles – are fully insured for their specific value (what’s known in the business as an “agreed value” policy). That means if your vehicle is stolen and not recovered, you will receive the previously agreed-upon value listed in your coverage. No haggling after the fact over what it was worth.

    Related point: Many of us neglect to update our policies as we update our cars – or as the retail market value of the car changes. If you recently had your car professionally re-painted, for instance, you should make sure your policy/coverage reflects that. Be sure the “agreed value” is up to date – and not based on what the car was worth five years ago, when you first took out the policy.

    Reprinted with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.

    Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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