How to catch a burglar?

I’ve had my detached garage broken into a couple times. The first time they scaled my fence and opened the door. So I started locking it and the next time they knocked the door in. Both times they’ve taken my bikes. Police came, but even though I have the serial numbers, it’s extremely unlikely I’ll ever get them back.

I installed a better lock now and I think I could install some cameras to deter them from breaking in, but what I really want is to catch them. Any ideas?

I’m thinking of leaving the garage unlocked, setting up a Belkin WeMo motion detector to call me if it detects motion at night so I can look out my window and call the police. Then I’m also thinking of putting a little Garmin GTU GPS device on the bike somewhere so I can track it.

Problem is that the GPS device needs to be charged fairly regularly. Also I’m not sure if the Belkin Wemo will reach 40 feet to my detached garage

Any better ideas? I really want to catch these guys

No, you really do not want to catch those guys. That will only result in someone, possibly you, being injured or killed. Let the police handle any confrontations that don’t threaten you or your family inside the house.

What you want to do is stop the thefts. An alarm system, possibly with lights and motion detectors, should be adequate for the task. Cameras may be useful in prosecution in the event the burglars are eventually caught.

Motion-sensitive outdoor spotlights.

Better fence?

Yes I’ve always had the motion sensitive spotlights. Doesn’t seem to help. And I am going to get a new fence, but I really want the police to catch them.

Yes I agree it’s best for the police to handle the confrontations. With the GPS I could provide the coordinates to the police so they could track the person down

We had a similar problem at work - years and years of repeated break ins, no suspects. The perps would break in, kill the alarm bells, then get some stuff and get out before anyone could respond to the alarm. A couple of times they cut the phone lines into the building, so the burglar alarm couldn’t dial out, and they then had all the time in the world.

When the ownership changed hands, we ended up with a new plan: we arranged it so the building was fairly easy to get in to, but hard to get out of. Then we installed a silent alarm with a cellular modem. Next break in, the cell modem dials out, the police have plenty of time to surround the building, and the guys get arrested trying to leave, ending up in prison.

And that, curious enough, was the last break in attempt we had. Either it was the same people doing it all those years, or the word got around that if you try to break in to that old blue building, you’ll end up back in this prison.

How would you make it easy-in and hard to get out of?

This driveway alert from Harbor Freight will chime when they come in. They won’t hear it, but you will. You can go point your weapon of choice at them, call the police, bark loudly - whatever.

You want them in? Board up any windows and exits but one. Install a door closer on the only entrance door.

Also, install a magnetic lock. When they enter, the door closes, and stays closed until the nice policeman gets there. Me? I’d toss in a tear gas grenade for fun, but then, I really hate thieves.

If there’s a garage door, like for cars and such, screw that puppy shut. You can reverse this later, of course.

A camera to catch their antics and panic would be nice.

If you’re Brazilian, you could cut off their heads and put them on a pike for the other burglars to see.

Or you could freeze them in Carbonite and lean them up against your fence.

I’m good either way.

Have you though about getting a dog? Preferably one that barks loudly at intruders.

Not for a detached garage. Unless you have the dog living outside or inside the garage, a barking dog will mostly piss off neighbors, not scare burglars in another building.

Cover the floor of your garage with that stuff they use in glue traps for mice.

Surround your garage with a tiger pit.

That sounds totally impractical.

The old adage would suggest that you must send a burglar to catch a burglar.

Making a building hard to get out of violates many fire codes.

Since the perps were predisposed to cut the phone lines on the old alarm and then take there time it would be hard for them to get out when they were surrounded by cops who answered the cellular alarm. Thieves really are not as bright as people give them credit for; they are too lazy to work for a living and they are too lazy to change their habits without a reason. I’ll bet 1-2 years from now they will be on the lookout for silent alarms after they get out of advanced thief school. Trouble with advanced thief school is that the teachers all got caught and thus not really that bright themselves. :wink:

Agreed. I suggest locking all the doors tight, then prop up one side of the garage with a stick. When the thieves go in, pull the rope tied to the stick and they will be trapped.

Honestly, your best bet is a motion detector inside the garage, or a door alarm that wakes you so you can call the cops.

When I lived alone, I had my doors set with deadbolt locks both sides (as well as doorknob loc). The locksmith warned me he was only doing it because I lived alone and (typical Canadian adult male) did not lock the deadbolt while at home. He warned me about the dangers of being locked in in an emergency like a fire.

The logic was that theives would have to climb through a first-floor window to get out,8 feet in the air, 4 feet from the floor - or climb through a tiny basement window. It would be harder to remove larger items if they could not exit through the door.

Of course, if they are going to kick or hammer in the door, all you can do is switch to steel doors with steel frames. Once they try to leave, you need to figure out how to disable the garage door too.

Maybe the time taken to hammer through a steel door while motion floodlights are on and alarms are blaring will scare them away. Just hope they don’t be dicks and stick a toothpick in the lock and break it off… Plus garage doors tend to be fairly fragile.

A rural pharmacist I know used to go through all these building entry-proofing techniques, only to find one morning the thieves had sawed their way through the roof one night.


Fire academy forcible entry training is great preparation for a life of crime. little tidbits like how to remove a locked deadbolt lock from a door in about 30 seconds with a couple simple tools.

Steel door, steel frame in a wooden wall. Axes and chainsaw can make new door.

I love the city apartment dwellers who put in the big “police door” - into a plasterboard wall

Massive deadbolts on hollow-core doors are also good for giggles.

Do we need to mention how “safe” you are in your shiny new house - the one with 3/8" panels of wood scrap for siding - in an era of cordless circular saws?

Look into stucco (cheap) or brick facade (expensive) or real brick (Mr. Gates, is that you?)