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Vancouver neighbors find auto garage doors open, suspect thieves are stealing codes

KATU photo

VANCOUVER, Ore. – Some homeowners in a Vancouver neighborhood are waking up to find their garage doors open after they were sure they’d been closed the night before.

The reports came in over the weekend from several people living around Riverview Elementary and Mountain View High School.

“I discovered Friday morning that my garage door was open,” said Behr Mirfathali. “Completely shocked, yeah. Worried about it.”

At first he thought something had just gotten in the way of the sensor while the door was closing.

After learning that neighbors had similar experiences, he started wondering if a would-be thief went through the area.

Security experts say it is possible to steal automatic door opener codes, and to rig a remote to randomly try doors.

“Sometimes you can get openers that work universally,” said Eric Peterson of Redondo Technology. “So they just tweak the codes and they can open ‘Genie’ or other brand garage doors which are accessed remotely through a wireless device.”

It's the older door openers that are more susceptible to code readers.

Homeowners can always change the code on your old one.

Newer model openers have billions of code possibilities and are harder to crack.

Knowing that has other neighbors like Evelyn Bennier worried.

“It’s kind of scary when you know they can get in without knowing your combination or anything like that,” Bennier said.

“Can't they put that energy into going to work instead of figuring how to get into everybody's garage with these new apps or whatever they are,” she continued.

Authorities say to keep in mind that crooks often roam from neighborhood to neighborhood, so if it happens to you - call police and tell your neighbors.

Security expert Eric Peterson of Redondo Technology in Vancouver follows the patterns and trends of local crime.

"A sad thing is you can expect to see more crime closer to the holidays, when people are in need of money" said Peterson.

"But one of the best and cheapest crime prevention tactics is to get to know your neighbors. If something happens to you, tell people, and they'll tell people, and when more people talk and are aware, the bad guys hear it too and stay away."

Here are some other tips for staying safe:

INVEST IN A KEYCHAIN REMOTE CONTROL ... INSTEAD OF LEAVING YOUR GARAGE DOOR OPENER - IN YOUR CAR.

THAT WAY - IF SOMEONE BREAKS INTO YOUR CAR - THEY DON'T ALSO HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR HOME.

*MAKE SURE THE DOOR THAT CONNECTS YOUR GARAGE AND YOUR HOME - IS AS SECURE - AS YOUR FRONT DOOR.

*CONSIDER PUTTING A PEEP HOLE - IN THE DOOR THAT LEADS FROM YOUR HOME - TO YOUR GARAGE.

THAT WAY IF YOU HEAR A NOISE IN THERE - YOU DON'T HAVE TO OPEN THE DOOR.

*FROST OR COVER YOUR GARAGE WINDOWS ... SO THIEVES CAN'T SEE IN ...

*AND - CONSIDER GETTING AN ALARM SYSTEM SYSTEM - THAT CAN ALERT YOUR SMARTPHONE - IS ANYONE OPENS THE DOOR.

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