East Brainerd residents fear garage code thefts
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Residents in one Chattanooga neighborhood fear someone is driving around and gathering codes to open their garage doors as a way to break in. We're learning, it's not that uncommon.
If you have an older garage door opener, you're at risk of a thief walking right into your home through the garage. That's exactly what has homeowners on edge in the Hurricane Creek Estates neighborhood off East Brainerd Road.
Several residents have reported a suspicious vehicle in their neighborhood the last few days. They say as it drives by, some garage doors start randomly opening. They're worried it's a high-tech thief behind the wheel, planning break-ins.
Garage door professionals say, it wouldn't be the first time, and way more homeowners are at risk than you may think.
An anonymous resident captured the suspicious activity on home surveillance video earlier this week. It shows a maroon Honda circling the neighborhood. Neighbors said some garage doors would randomly open as it drove past, the car would slow down for a few seconds, then move on to the next one.
"I feel threatened. I immediately feel violated," Hurricane Creek Estates resident Herbert Brown said.
Herbert Brown is on the neighborhood watch team, and has seen the maroon car, too.
"You definitely don't want to wait until something happens and it's too late," Brown said.
He says he's praying for safety, keeping a close watch and some homeowners have notified police. Garage door technicians say swiping garage opener codes isn't a new crime and older houses are more susceptible.
"Door openers that are probably 15 or 18 years of age or older have what we called a fixed code switch on them here they use the same code every time they open the door," Precision Door Service Chattanooga Technician Jerry Berry said.
He explains thieves can drive by with code scanners that pick up radio frequencies, and program your garage door code into their own, so they can come back, and walk right in.
"Those openers are still liable for easy break-ins," he said.
When criminals started catching on in the early nineties, they stopped making those "fixed code" openers and switched to "roaming codes."
"When those doors open, the code changes every time you open or shut the doors, so it never uses the same code again," Berry said.
Like many of the homes in Hurricane Creek Estates, Brown's was built in the seventies.
"What we're doing now is upgrading our technology in our garage and also our security with ADT," Brown said.
The newer, more secure, garage door openers can cost anywhere from $250 up to $700.
Data was not available Wednesday night from Chattanooga Police on the number of recent thefts in Hurricane Creek Estates.