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Which deadbolt locks work best?

June 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Burglars break into more than a half-million homes every year. The most common tactic is kicking in the door. While deadbolt locks can help, some work much better than others.

Consumer Reports tested 19 different deadbolt locks to find the ones that work and the ones that don't.

When it came to testing the deadbolts, Consumer Reports covered all the bases. Besides the kick-in test, technicians spent weeks sawing, picking, wrenching and drilling to see how secure locks are.

"If you have a standard door lock, choosing any deadbolt is going to be a big improvement," said Consumer Reports' 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.

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

A significant problem is weak strike plates.

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

All too often the strike plates failed Consumer Reports' tests. Of all the locks tested, only one passed all of the tests: the Medeco Maxum deadbolt for $190. It's the only one a drill couldn't get through.

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

If you already have a deadbolt, Consumer Reports says there's an inexpensive way to strengthen it: replace your strike plate with a heavy-duty one. Consumer Reports recommends the Mag High Security Box Strike for $10.

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