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An owner of a garage in a row of garages removes all locks and even the handle from their garage door and leaves it in this very obvious vulnerable state for many weeks or months. A thief enters that unsecured garage and gains entry through the interior wall to an adjoining garage. Is there any liability for the thefts on the part of those who failed to secure their door?

If the outside walls and doors were obviously working somewhat to keep thieves out, as they chose to enter in this manner, the unsecured garage created a vulnerability for the neighbouring ones. It may be that interior walls are not intended to protect neighbours from one another but simply to divide up space, despite appearing sturdy.

(For those wondering why a door would have all the locks removed, the garage could be owned by a leasing company that "evicted" a "tenant", and removed all the locking mechanisms to empty it. The adjoining garage that was actually burgled is privately owned.)

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Problem with the premise

Unless the interior wall between the Garages is made from drywall or paper, there is no way that the security was compromised. Breaking down the typical inter-garage wall from hollow stones takes something on the order of magnitude of ten to fifteen minutes and makes a lot of noise and debris, and if it was structural much longer even. A typical garage door lock puts up about half a minute of resistance to a drill or handheld electric saw against the locking lugs, and about 2 seconds to an unskilled picker with a wave rake, because the locks are so cheap.

Liability?

Since the premise that the interior wall would compromise the security of the neighboring garage is laughable, there's no liability. Only if the interior wall is made in such a way that it is more easily bypassed than the door there might be any liability. However, the bar here is a wall that is defeated faster and with less work than the door - and that is pretty much a wall made from wet newspaper or exposed, wet drywall.

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  • Is "the premise ... laughable"? Breaking through an external wall would often be noticeable, whereas breaking through an internal wall much less so (people might expect noises from a garage). If all garages are secure, only one of the owners can access an internal wall: if a garage is left open, then any passerby can get access to a couple of internal walls.
    – TripeHound
    Dec 14, 2023 at 8:58
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    You underestimate how laughable a doorlock is for a mediocre picker. You need a dose of lockpickinglawyer or BosnianBill... in fact... there's a video on bypassing garage locks with a simple tool: youtube.com/watch?v=8Zef7tXMzfk
    – Trish
    Dec 14, 2023 at 9:04
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    The premise is not laughable, if entering through the door was a better option they would have taken it - it was clearly open to them. Chipping away the mortar could be done with any vaguely tapering foot of metal (even cutlery would do) and a mallet, and done out of sight, with no particular skill set. Defeating a metal door would require less common tools and skills, and as the metal doors are large sheets of metal, it would be incredibly loud. Dec 14, 2023 at 14:48
  • @GrimmTheOpiner So you would try to sue the shop owner who did not lock his cellar for the bank burglary that happened because someone dug through his cellar? Sorry, but under what obligation do that?
    – Trish
    Dec 16, 2023 at 22:44

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