Electric Roll Up Gates – By: Andrew Brassard

Not all forcible entry has to be forcible, in some cases a little knowledge and some finesse will get the job done quicker than some more traditional methods.

One such instance is Electric Roll Up Doors and Gates.  With a little bit of knowledge and a screwdriver entry into these gates can be very fast with very little force. Electric Roll up Gates are most commonly found in my area on loading docks, garbage rooms, and on the occasional roll up gate. These electric door openers are usually found mounted around 4' off the ground directly beside the door that it opens. There is a key way on the control panel.  This key way controls the door going up and down. The key way is often a standard mortise lock cylinder, on the back side of the cylinder. A large pivoting arm is bolted to the key way. When the key is inserted and turned the pivoting arm will twist and hit a limiter switch to either roll the door up or down.




Forcing entry
Forcing entry into the door usually does not require very much force at all, the only tool that you need is a screwdriver in most cases. The first thing you want to do is undo the screws in the four corners of the face plate. I have been told by friends that they have encountered security screws in these from time to time, I have never encountered these security screws. Most of the time standard Philips, Robertson, or Slot headed screws hold the face plate on. Once the screws have been removed the face plate will need to be pried off with a halligan or Rex Tool. The reason for this is that the pivoting arm on the back side of the cylinder hits small tabs on the  edges of the electrical box. The tabs are why it says on the front of the lock face that you must have the key in order to open the lock, when the key is inserted into the key way and it is turned the pivoting arm turns and is able to fit past the tabs on the electrical box. To pry the face plate off is not difficult, these tabs on the electrical box are light gauge galvanized metal that will bend quite easily with a little pressure with a prying tool.

Operating the gate
Once the face plate has been removed and pried out you can operate the gate. Directly behind the pivoting arm is a limiting switch with a simple button to operate the gate up and down, there is one button on each side of the lock cylinder. You can simply use your finger (or a pencil if it makes you feel more comfortable) to push the button and activate the door. If you look at the face plate you may be able to tell what side the limiter switch is for "Up" and what one is for "Down" by the words on both sides of the lock cylinder. If no words indicating what side is "Up" are present simply try pushing one side, if it does not work it means that it is the other side. Keep in mind that you are dealing with live electrical wires so extreme caution must be taken not to touch any wires, if you use the proper techniques and give any electrical component the respect it deserves than that should not be a problem.

Also remember to take a thorough look at the gate and properly size it up. If there are additional locks on the door such as traditional pin, hasp, and padlock assemblies, then these locks must be removed before this entry method can be performed.

In some instances these gates are also locked from the inside or the electrical switch no longer works, in these instances the gate or door will have to be cut with a power saw.

Also be sure to check with your departmental SOP's and SOG's before performing this entry method, some departments have policies against members touching an electrical equipment such as this.

This is an extremely quick and effective method for forcing entry and it causes very little damage. The best way to prepare for these types of forcible entry situations is to pay a visit to the company in your city or town that install these electric gate openers, ask them to run you through the most common types that they install in your area.

Till next time, stay safe!

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