Deadbolt Locks - Not so secure. (And a "Type 4" malfunction)


December 12, 2003, 10:31 AM
So I'm a little unnerved... My house keychain broke last night (fortunately I keep the car keys on a separate ring) but the important front door keys went AWOL. I found myself unable to get into my apartment last night. Landlord was not around and it was quite late, so I had no other recourse but to call an emergency locksmith. Now, I ALWAYS lock the deadbolt on my front door, but dang if that smith took more than five seconds to defeat the lock with a simple picking tool. A deadbolt! Yikes.

Talk about getting shaken out of your complacency! I have another set of keys, so I am OK now, but I got a little lesson from the smith about deadbolt locks. Some are really better than others, and I will be replacing that deadbolt real soon (Landlord will just have to deal.) I do have another means of securing the door once I am inside, but I am looking for a way to augment that as well.

So, to top it off, I just had my first gun-related nightmare last night. Yep, some BG was facing me down with a shotgun and I suffered a "Type 4" malfunction. Not a failure to feed, or a stovepipe, or a double feed. It was the scary, unexplained "click" when "bang" should have happened... Didn't sleep so well after that...

At least to my credit, when I woke up (shaking) I remembered in the dream that I did not chamber-check before facing down the BG, although I had the time. I suppose I did actually listen to my instructors once in a while... Just takes a while to sink in.

Morals of the story: Deadbolts are but a single line of defense, and ALWAYS check your weapon. Not only in your nightmares...


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Andrew Rothman
December 12, 2003, 11:07 AM
Dead bolts vary widely in quality.

I know someone who can pick locks -- a harmless hobby, by the way, not a criminal vocation.

He brought over a half-dozen padlocks -- good Master locks as well as some no-name Chinese locks and home improvement store brands. He then showed us how he could pick each one within about 5-15 seconds.

He then gave a couple of us a one-minute primer on lock picking, gave us each a set of picks, and turned us loose. Within half an hour, each of us could open most of the locks with little difficulty.

When I moved into my house a few years ago, I routinely replaced each exterior lock with a Kwickset Titan deadbolt.

I still had the old locks -- doorknob and deadbolt -- in the basement. They were standard Kwickset models. Our amateur locksmith got through them in seconds.

He then took a chair over to the door and spent a good half hour working on the Kwickset Titan. No luck.

They are only ten or fifteen bucks more than standard locks, and in my mind, well worth the difference.

Kwickset Titan locks have additional security features like a free-rotating collar, an additional cylinder pin and longer, tougher bolts.

I also upgraded the standard strikes to heavy-duty strikes installed with four-inch deck screws.

(And no, I don't work for them.)

Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Secure all of your doors. Secure your windows.

You can't keep a determined criminal out, but you can make breaking into your house harder, noisier and slower than breaking into your neighbor's. Remember, although you can't STOP crime, you can encourage criminals to find an easier target.

cracked butt
December 12, 2003, 11:14 AM
A little known item about any door lock-
Most have only 5 or 6 keyings.
If someone knows the particular lock on your door, all they need to do is go to the nearest Home Depot and buy a dozen locks of the same brand and model and one of them should have a key that will fit in your lock.:uhoh:

December 12, 2003, 11:24 AM
The big problem with the best locks is that they are no more secure than the door that they are installed in.

Why bother picking the lock when you can just bust the door with a large screwdriver or other implement?

Why bother doing that when you can go in through the window?

About the only thing locks do is cause the burglar to leave evidence of "break and entry" as oppose to just "entry"

Now a Siberian Tiger in your apt - that would be effective! :D

December 12, 2003, 11:38 AM
Medeco ( is the way to go. Controlled blanks and lots of different key settings. Extremely difficult to pick.

December 12, 2003, 11:53 AM
I spent 5 years as a locksmith-still have friends in the trade and still use the "tools" on occasion. First of all, no lock is any better than the door and frame. It's a waste to get a high security deadlock if you have a cheap hollow-core door and/or a flimsy frame. If you have a solid or fireproof door with a substantial frame, then by all means get a high security deadlock inastalled by a reputable pro. Kwikset was mentioned. I prefer Schlage, however, for most residential purposes either will work. As to "picking a lock", a reputable locksmith can do various things to make a lock less vulnerable to picking. Locks that have been "master keyed", as many rental properties are, are more vulnerable to picking. The average perp doesn't pick locks, he pries the door, which is where the strength of your door and the quality of your lock comes in to play. Get an alarm, especially if you have guns. If you do have guns in an apartment or rental setting, they better be well secured, hopefully in a real gun safe. If you really are concerned about your lock getting picked, you can get an ultra high security lock installed by a specialty locksmith. These locks are nearly impossible to pick, and I assure you that your friend with a set of picks cannot pick one of these. Lastly, make sure the place looks occupied, even when it isn't. Lighting, timers, and even leaving a radio on when you're gone will help. While the combination of locks, alarm and lighting may help you feel more secure, never become complacent and don't assume beacuse you've done all this stuff that you're burglary proof. There is no such thing. If you've got it and they want it bad enough, they'll either try or figure out a way, and 9 times out of 10 sheer, brute drug-addicted force is what they'll use.

December 12, 2003, 12:29 PM
Other half of the company I work it does security design. Medeco is the way to go. That's a period right there.

December 12, 2003, 03:50 PM
Yeah Medeco is pick proof etc. but is still only worth the expense if his door/frame are sturdy enough. He lives in a rented apt. The average perp. doesn't pick locks. Medeco has no advantage in this application unless he has a serious solid core door, a metal fireproof door, and/or a hefty frame around the door. I can't tell you how many times I've seen more lock than door. A good locksmith can install a quality lock and set up that lock to be as pick resistant as he needs it to be. We're not talking CIA/FBI types here, we're talking scumbag junkies who use force not finess. The bolt and strike are likely what's gonna prevent a break-in here.

December 12, 2003, 05:16 PM
First time I broke a door frame I was 11 (in a fight with older brother) - I was just over 100 lbs at the time. If you don't have some metal in your doorframe for the deadbolt to fit into (even a 6 ft x 4" strip of heavy sheet metal is enough) then a burgler can get through your door. The only time I was burglered when I was renting they simply shattered the door - not the door frame but the door itself.
With todays construction methods (chipboard sheathing) and too fast growing commercial pine forests producing very weak, soft wood I don't think it wil be long before the burglers will simply start going through the walls.

December 12, 2003, 06:25 PM
Thanks to all for the tips.

My doorframe is a fairly heavy aluminum one and well bolted. The door itself ain’t so great, but, I agree if someone wanted to bust in the hard way, they wouldn’t get that much resistance.

Even so, I think the investment of the good (non-Home Depot/K-Mart) lock is a smart one. At the very least, when I am not at home, it will take the BG’s that much longer to get inside.

The good news is that I am on the second floor of a “secured” building (yeah, I know), but I have a corner unit facing the street. Anyone wanting to bust in would need to quite publicly take an extension ladder to my windows (second floor plus a garage – half underground, half above). At least 15 feet, and probably closer to 20 feet.

It would take an effort. Another effort would be to get at my guns. Although, as an apartment dweller, and a full sized safe is a bit impractical, I have come up with a way to secure my firearms. A heavy lock through a big, hard to move object. It works…

I’ll be OK. Just a little freaked right now. But like experiencing a small earthquake, it doesn’t hurt to re-evaluate.

And I have my water and batteries…and I remember my handle - Typhoon...

Double Naught Spy
December 12, 2003, 06:35 PM
I still cringe at the thought that we kept our house unlocked when we were gone when I was a kid. My pop, as a cop, figured it was just better to let folks walk in the house than to have them do $X damage kicking in doors and breaking the glass of the windows. As he noted, more locks just meant more damage to the door frame when the bad guys kicked it in! :what:

I lock, but still laugh some at folks with really heavy duty door locks and then 1/8" thick window glass. I want to see damage that somebody has entered my how and may still be there. You can have the Macho Master 10000 door with the bubba-proof entrance denying cross bolt relock lock system and that will keep people from going in your door, but do nothing to stop them from going in your windows.

Most normal crackhead, street, or kid home burglars don't take the time to learn lock picking skills, buy lock copies, etc. If you go against folks with skills, they will beat you. Most locks and alarm systems are to stop the ignorant, not the skilled burglar type people. Then again, most skilled burglar type people with such skills probably aren't going to be hitting our homes, but instead putting their efforts into big ticket homes.

December 12, 2003, 07:00 PM
I was introduced to the "security concerns" in a former life. I can't add much other than perhaps I re-enforced everything in a Frame with heavy gauge steel...I know from a loss that no matter how heavy Aluminum is, it ain't heavy enough. Of course I had to deal with pros, and pros just back up a wrecker and hit the granny gear...door, frame, added steel...unload door and haul out a 8' safe.

Same stunt pulled a customer's house, broad daylight 15 min.after tey left for church. Gutsy.

It is worth the monies and efforts to get the best you can afford. All this stuff keeps and honest man honest , the customer's ( or individual ) a sense of security...does help with insurance rates.

If one is keeping the "keys to the store" so to speak as I did, keep aware at all times. The pros just as soon kidnap me,or stealing a wrecker and by passing the alarms, picking locks.

I have been surprised on one occasion coming home and the alarm gave the "all safe secure"...well they bypassed my alarm, took out a back window and "engineered my alarm" my surprise.

Assume nothing, trust nothing...that is the why -why I'm more concerned about leaving, entering, answering the door. The groceries may stay outside...I'm going to open door weakhanded , my other is "occupied" or ready to be. BTDTs kinda sticks with you.

December 13, 2003, 03:24 AM
I have Schlage deadbolts on all my doors and got locked out once. Called a locksmith and after about 30 minutes he just gave up on trying to pick it and we just had to drill it out.

Double Naught Spy
December 13, 2003, 08:50 AM
And it took about 1 minute to drill out the lock, yes? There is a no brainer. Sure enough, you can protect against some of the more skilled lock pickers, but with a nifty DeWalt rechargeable drill taken from the previous home, your lock can be drilled by a 12 year old kid in a minute.

I have poked fun, but the same logic also applies to gun safes. Most have heavier doors and some even talk about being drill proof or having a special plate. So the door is heavy duty, but the sides are often only about half as strong. It will take a few minutes, but a sawzall, grinder, or even a good claw, rock, or roofing hammer and you can fairly quickly punch a hole into the side, top, or back of a safe.

Main entrances are not the only places that need to be fortified.

December 13, 2003, 10:11 AM
No matter how strong you make the doors and windows, a thief is only a chainsaw and step ladder away from entering through your roof. :eek:


December 13, 2003, 11:41 AM
one of the home improvement channels. Talking about security. IIRC the guy that was the "expert" really was...had gotten out of prison after doing time for multiple burglaries.

Homeowner was all proud that he had heavy steel doors, locks, etc. There were large bushes around the home. The pro said he'd use the bushes for cover, and go right through the outside wall.

Think about it...nothing there but a little siding, sheeting, fluffy insulation, and drywall on the inside. Said he could be in the house in less than 2 minutes with a straight claw hammer.

I have one of the lock picking sets. You're right....I can pick the lock on most front doors in mebbe 30 seconds. Only reason I bought it was to see if it really does. Cheapest $10 I ever spend. The circular locks like on the steering wheel thingies for your car take slightly longer for someone that's good....mebbe 45 seconds. Watched a guy do it.

Padlocks, etc...same thing

I think the best bet is decent locks, a brand name alarm, a gun safe, and good insurance. And keep your mouth shut about how many guns and how much valuable stuff you have. Might be somebody else's tomorrow.

Phil Ca
December 13, 2003, 12:42 PM
My wife and I lived in one house for 25 years. During one time period we leased another house for a second business for about 5 years. When we were moving in I accidently discovered that the seperate apartment at the new place used the same key that we had for our regular house. I told only my wife about it and we were able to use only one key for both places. If anyone is lulled into believing that their lock and key set is one of a kind, don't believe it.

Andrew Rothman
December 13, 2003, 01:08 PM
A little known item about any door lock-
Most have only 5 or 6 keyings.

Nope. Five or six setting per pin, times four or five pins, so [edit: 625+] keyings.

December 13, 2003, 09:49 PM
I believe some of the best insurance is a big dog or dogs inside the house while you are gone. Had my house broken into in San Diego years ago, the only thing the bad guy did was leave some blood behind......Lee

December 13, 2003, 10:21 PM
I'm also a big fan of Schlage locks. The most inportant part is the frame and the no often forgotten "fit" of the door. As my job is cool enough to pay me to bust in door I have a fair amount of practice at it. The second hardest doors for me to get into are the older door that were hand set by real carpenters (none of this pre-hung stuff), with mortised locks in them. The locks are defeatable by picking, but forcing the door itself in is a two man job. The absolute hardest door I've ever tried to force was a steel framed, steel skeletoned, steel covered door with pin in the top, bottom, and knob side of the door. A true Ghetto door as it where. once it gets to that point I'd simply move. As long as your inside a simply slide lock will stop all practical entries, for amored ninjas with blow torches you just going to come up short.

December 13, 2003, 10:47 PM
Lee: I had exactly the same experience. I arrived home from work to find my back sliding glass door jimmied open and a large pool of blood about two feet inside. The cute little dog was taking a nap.

I tend to agree with Double Naught Spy's dad. I do lock my doors but I know they won't survive even a half hearted attempt to get in.
I work as a fire fighter/paramedic and have forced entry into many homes. At least 50. We are trained in forcible entry and forcible exit. We try to do as little damage as possible; the motto is "try before you pry". Often, you can get in without much effort at all. First you see if any doors have been left unlocked. Then you check the windows to see if they are unlocked. Then you see if you can jimmy open any windows or sliding glass doors. It also isn't unheard of to have lock picks. Then you can always break windows. If that is impossible you kick in the door. If you can't kick in the door, you force the bolt of the lock away from the jam. Or you can slip a saw blade inbetween the door and the jam and cut the bolt in half. If that doesn't work you have to get serious. You can use a hydraulic spreader that exerts 20,000 psi tip pressure. Or you can simply cut away the door with a K12 saw. It all that is impossible for some reason, you can simply take a sledge hammer and go through the wall. In rookie school we had to each hack our way through a solid steel reinforced concrete wall while wearing an airpack.
The point is that very little of this stuff requires any special training or special equipment. It is mostly just a little patience and maybe some brute force. If someone wants to get in, they will. And it doesn't take a locksmith, the FBI, or the CIA. It might take nothing, or it might take very common household tools.
One thing that is a real big concern is dogs. You can get in, but what then ? What if there is a dog like mine that doesn't talk the talk, he walks the walk. He might growl, but won't bark at an intruder. What if you look in the window and don't see a dog because it is in another room or because it is in the backyard accessable by a dog door ?

December 14, 2003, 04:43 AM
WHat i find interesting in all of this is that some of the most advanced security measures protect only against really hi-tech thieves. The average "hood" in my neck of the woods is just going to toss a brick through the window and call it a day. Personally i think the best way to stay safe from theft is to not advertise that you have anything worth stealing in the first place. If you cant do that (i.e. run a buisiness etc) then i think insurance and alarms are the best bet. There is really no way to "harden" a buisiness so well that it is immune to theft while still being able to operate as a buisiness.

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