Last night around 2:30, I woke up to the piercing sound of house alarm going off. I sprinted to Lauren and Bella, who were sleeping in the other room in an attempt to help Bella sleep better. Once I was sure they were alright and hadn’t triggered the alarm, we flipped on the lights and started to collect ourselves.
We made sure nobody was actually in the house, and then went to determine what tripped the alarm. It was one of the front doors. The main front-door is locked and untouched, so it has to be the door to the garage. It’s shut, but we never lock it. I go out there to check, and the garage door is open. That’s weird. (Side note: Our garage doors won’t trigger an alarm, only the doors/windows into the house.)
I look around the garage thinking maybe we left the garage door open and an animal had walked in. I knew I had closed it, but that seemed the most likely scenario. Then I notice a bunch of cans of wood stain and other things that looked to have been kicked over by someone who was in a hurry to get out. I wasn’t 100% sure that was the case, but it sure seemed like it.
This all seems really weird. Lauren thinks to look in the fridge, and about a twelve-pack worth of beer is gone along with a couple of bottles of Champagne. Clearly, someone had been in our garage, so we head back inside to call the police.
Almost immediately an officer is driving down our street with their headlights off. At this point, I go outside to check out the garage doors. Lauren suggests checking her car, which ended up being unlocked. Someone had clearly been in there and looked through everything. That’s when we see the garage door opener and realized how they got in the garage.
The local police were great. There were three officers almost immediately, and a fourth showed up later to fingerprint. They believe they’ve caught the guy but are still collecting/sorting through evidence. Thankfully, everyone is alright, and the only loss was some sleep and peace of mind.
Anyhow, based on what we learned last night, I thought it would be helpful to share the things that we did wrong that enabled him to get as far as he did.
Garage Door Openers
Lauren’s car was unlocked in the driveway. This is an obvious oversight, but less so due to the fact that she’s usually distracted when getting our daughter in and out of the car, so it’s easy to forget. This meant he had access to a garage door opener and got into the garage without any problems as our garage doors aren’t alarmed. The officers advised us to never leave garage door openers in the car and said that they see this frequently. It makes sense in retrospect, but isn’t something we had ever thought about before.
Lock Garage Doors
Our garage doors have a “Lock” button that will prevent them from being opened. We weren’t using those locks. We will now. A friend also mentioned that they have a light switch that kills power to the garage door opener. That’s probably just as effective.
Lock house door to garage (Preferably w/ a dead bolt)
We have never locked the house door to the garage because we always felt like the garage doors did that job. Again, that’s wrong in hindsight, but we never felt like we had a reason to be that concerned until now.
Have an alarm & Use It
In our case, this was the key part. Once he opened the door to the house, the alarm went off immediately, and based on the things knocked over in the garage, it was clear he was trying to leave in a hurry. Every now and then, we used to forget to arm it at night because we were too focused on bedtime for Bella. It was easy to get tired and forget it. Had we not armed it last night, the story could have ended very differently.
Of course, the chance of this happening to anyone else is pretty slim, but most of these things are simple enough and would serve as enough of a deterrent in many cases. It’s a really weird feeling to be woken up in the middle of the night by your alarm and think that someone tried to get into your house while you were sleeping. Hopefully this will help some other folks from ever having to experience that.