Get Gephardt Investigates: Secure your home for one dollar
To be clear, kicking the door as hard as you can is not the way professional locksmith Patrick Torkelsen with Action Locksmith recommends people get into their homes when they've been locked out.
But it works.
That’s a fact well known by thieves.
According to Safe Sound Family, there is a burglary in the United States every 14.4 seconds. 56 percent of the time, the crook is breaking in through a front or back door. It's a crime that costs Americans $4.8 billion dollars every year, not to mention the helpless, violated feeling victims describe.
But there is a wildly simple and inexpensive fix that begins with throwing away a couple of seemingly-important screws.
The screws that come with most door strike plates are short, a half inch or less, and that poses an innate security problem, Torkelsen says.
"This little half-inch screw is only going into the beauty part of the frame which is a half inch piece of wood," he says.
Instead, install a couple three-inch stainless-steel screws which will dig in five or six times deeper, Torkelsen says.
Get Gephardt decided to put the claim to the test. First, we found a home with those standard, short screws and I gave the door a relatively gentile kick.
The doors frame instantly blew apart and the door swung open. I ripped the strike plate right out of the frame, which was demolished.
"That's what happens when you're not using the studs,” Torkelsen said.
With that, Torkelsen and I head next door. He removes the half-inch screws that came with door and installs a pair of three-inch stainless-steel ones.
Then I kicked.
And kicked some more. I kicked more than 30 times as hard as I could but the door didn’t budge.
Determined, Torkelsen and I decided to try together. Despite what can only be described as a herculean effort, the door with its new three-inch screws had us bested.
We did crimp the metal of those strike plates, damaged the handle and cracked the door, but we never got into the house.
Cutting back the drywall, you can see exactly why it held. The three-inch screws were deep in two 2x4s that Torkelsen says are behind every entry-way door if the home was built to code.
On the other hand, the factory screws that came with the door don't even penetrate the frame.
Locksmiths sell all sorts of things that are designed to make your home more secure ranging from a few dollars to several hundred dollars, but, as I learned, two screws that I paid $1.18 at a hardware store did pretty well.