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Recent Thefts in Marin County: How an Auto-Lock Can Improve Garage Security

High-end bicycles are the current target of a series of residential burglaries in Marin County. The Central Marin Police warned residents about the increase in garage break-ins since the end of 2022. Perpetrators use weak points to access garages and valuables, mainly high-end bicycles.

The best way to keep your bicycles and other items safe is to enhance your garage door security. You can start by looking over your garage for any weaknesses thieves can use to access the bicycle and then take action to eliminate these weaknesses with the help of a garage door professional.

Series of Garage Break-Ins in Marin County

The series of garage break-ins in Marin County is an increasingly worrying trend. Since the beginning of December 2022, the Marin Police has seen a significant increase in the theft of high-end bicycles from residential properties. This trend of breaking into garages and stealing high-end bicycles has been slowly growing for nearly two years. One victim has even been targeted twice, once in 2021 and again at the beginning of 2023.

Bike thefts have been steadily rising across the country, increasing by nearly 24% in 2020. Seattle experienced an almost 54% increase in bike thefts from 2019-2020, while Denver saw a 26% increase in theft. There are various reasons for thieves to target bikes, including:

  1. Increase in ownership: During the pandemic, people turned to cycling as a safe and fun way to exercise outdoors when many fitness centers closed temporarily. A growing number of people also use cycling as a safer alternative to mass public transportation, especially if they live within biking distance of work and other amenities. Many new bicycle owners are less aware of how to protect their equipment from theft, making them vulnerable to theft.
  2. Bicycle shortage: The increased demand for bicycles has led to a shortage and increased prices. Many U.S. manufacturers also struggled with supply chain issues — imports decreased when factories in East Asia closed due to the pandemic. The lack of bicycles has caused prices to rise, making them attractive targets for thieves.
  3. Improving bicycle technology: Bicycles are made out of increasingly more sophisticated technology and tech such as carbon fiber. They may also have expensive additions like high-quality saddles that increase their resale value. E-bikes are also becoming increasingly popular, with sales jumping nearly 145% from 2019 to 2020. The demand for these expensive bikes plays a role in the rising bicycle theft trend.

These three main factors have contributed to the increase in bike thefts in Marin County and across the country.

How Are Garages Being Broken Into?

While there is some uncertainty as to why certain garages are targeted, authorities believe the perpetrators are targeting vulnerable garages. Perpetrators may take the time to “case” a neighborhood to identify garages with open or broken windows or a lack of security. They may also notice doors that are regularly left open and unlocked. It is also possible that the culprits are using social media to pinpoint locations with high-end bicycles and learn the layout of garages. This is especially true for cyclists who regularly share pictures and details of their bicycles, cycling routes and storage set up online.

According to the Marin Central Police, the bicycle thefts usually occur in the early morning between 1 and 4 a.m. The perpetrators use the latch release or coat hanger mode of burglary to gain access to garages. This method involves either breaking or forcing open a garage door window. From there, they use a long rod with a hook at one end to reach the emergency pull cords. Once these are pulled, the garage door bypasses the motorized system and opens.

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In some instances, perpetrators use a power or crank drill to create a hole in the garage panel. A long rod or stick with a hooked end is used to reach the crossbar keeping the garage door closed. These methods of entry are quick, easy and nearly soundless. Perpetrators may be able to enter your garage within a few minutes to steal your bicycles and other valuables.

The bicycles are probably loaded onto SUVs, pickup trucks and other cargo-type vehicles before being transported to a final destination. Authorities are also investigating the possibility that the bicycle thefts in Marin County are part of an organized fencing operation.

How Can You Protect Your Bicycles?

How Can You Protect Your Bicycles?

Knowing that bicycle thefts are happening is only the first step in protecting your possessions. Here are a few things you can do to protect your garage and bicycles:

Be Vigilant

One of the best ways to protect yourself and your neighbor is to be vigilant, according to the Marin Central Police. You should watch out for suspicious vehicles and people that may be casing your neighborhood. Take note of the vehicle’s make, model and license plates if possible. Report them to the relevant authorities. Get to know your neighbors and keep an eye out for them. Report any suspicious behavior. Install a home surveillance system and review any alerts and activations.

If you regularly post your cycling adventures on social media, look for any identifying features that can help potential thieves locate your house. Try and avoid sharing pictures of your garage, as doing so may help perpetrators learn the layout of your garage and its security features.

Secure Your Garage

Improving your garage security is the best way to protect your bicycles and garage. There are a few components that can help lower the risk of bicycle theft, including:

  • Windows: Block your windows so that perpetrators cannot see inside. You can also reinforce glass windows with a layer of plexiglass or add tight mesh over them. Ensure they are always closed, and repair or block any broken windows.
  • Emergency release handle: Hide or secure your emergency release handle so it cannot be tampered with. You can also invest in a garage door shield that covers the emergency release cord while leaving it functional.
  • Lights: Install motion-activated lights near your garage windows and doors. Motion-activated lights get rid of shadows that potential thieves can hide in.
  • Garage door opener: Get a smart garage door opener. They have many built-in safety features like a self-closing and auto-locking system, lighting controls and a smartphone connection that improves the safety of your garage. If someone manages to force your garage open, you will get an alert allowing you to contact the authorities immediately.
  • Lock: Consider getting an automatic garage door lock like the 841LM from LiftMaster. These locks work in tandem with your garage door opener by unlocking and locking the door as it opens and closes. An automatic lock ensures your garage is always locked. The deadbolt lock on the LiftMaster reinforces your garage door lock.

Secure Your Garage Door Today With Door Pros

Secure Your Garage Door Today With Door Pros

Garage security is a growing concern in Marin County and surrounding areas due to the spike in residential burglaries targeting high-end bicycles. Door Pros has decades of experience installing and repairing garage doors and accessories. Our team of experienced garage door professionals can help create a security solution for your garage door that encompasses everything from your locks and windows to garage door openers.

Request an estimate from Door Pros to secure your garage today!

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