5 On Your Side

Tests bust deadbolt claims

Posted June 14, 2011 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2011 6:07 p.m. EDT

It's an awful feeling to come home and find out your house was broken into!

Thieves often kick in the door to get inside.

A deadbolt can help.

Consumer Reports tested 19 locks to see which ones hold up the best.

One of the tools used to test deadbolts looks like a battering ram!

It’s actually a kick-in test that’s used to simulate the force used by a thief to kick in a door.

Technicians also spent weeks sawing, picking, wrenching and drilling to see how secure locks are.

“If you have a standard door lock like this, choosing any deadbolt is going to be a big improvement," says tester John Galeotafiore.

Several locks come with features like fingerprint access and keypad entry. But Consumer Reports found many don't provide the protection they promise. Even one that costs $250 didn’t measure up.

"Unfortunately, a few hard kicks or using a cordless drill in the right spot can get past most of the locks we tested," says Galeotafiore.

Weak strike plates were a significant problem.

"Most of the locks come with a strike plate like this that attaches to the door frame and the bolt goes into it," says Galeotafiore. “The problem is that they're very thin metal, and the screws are short, so it can't attach to the home's framing."

So the strike plates frequently failed Consumer Reports' tests.

Of all the locks tested, only one passed all of Consumer Reports tests. It's the $190 Medeco Maxum Deadbolt.

It's the only one a drill couldn't get through.

Testers also recommend a $55 Falcon model D241. While it isn't drill resistant, it did well in all of the other Consumer Reports tests.

If you already have a deadbolt, you can strengthen it by replacing your strike plate with a heavy-duty one.

Consumer Reports recommends the Mag High Security Box Strike that goes for $10.