There are many things you can do to boost home security, such as adding an alarm system or getting a guard dog, but unless you have working deadbolt locks and actually use them, your home isn't secure, locksmiths say.
Lance Cronk, owner of Metro Lock Service in Portland, Ore., says intruders use force to gain entry in most home burglaries. "Because the locks or deadbolts are not functioning properly or they are inadequate, the intruder is able to kick the door in," he says.
A deadbolt is a type of lock with a steel bolt that extends into the door jamb and strike plate of a door frame. The most common type is the single-cylinder deadbolt, operated by a twist knob on the inside of the door and a key on the outside. Some people prefer the double-cylinder deadbolt, which doesn't have a twist knob and requires a key for operation both inside and outside the home.
According to the latest FBI statistics, 59 percent of burglaries were the result of forced entry. A majority occurred in daytime.
"You should definitely have a deadbolt, and it needs to be a quality one with a hardened steel bolt," said Eric Ball, locksmith at Broad Ripple Lock in Indianapolis.
For the deadbolt to function properly, the bolt must extend fully into the hole on the door jamb. The hole should be reinforced with a metal strike plate. If the bolt doesn't extend all the way into the hole or if a strike plate isn't used, the lock and door frame can be compromised.
"Typically when someone kicks in a door, it's not the door that breaks, it's the door frame," Ball says. "You should use 3-inch screws to reinforce the strike plate into the studs of the frame of the house."
Even if you have a deadbolt lock on your door, it won't make a difference if it's not used regularly. Cronk says many homeowners find it easier to lock the doorknob and often neglect to lock the deadbolt.