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Do Your Deadbolt Locks Offer Maximum Security? You Might Be Surprised

(CBS) –Secure your deadbolt, and you think you're safe and sound. But in 10 percent or more of homes,  deadbolts may be improperly installed, allowing thieves to easily get inside your home, some locksmiths say.

CBS 2's Mary Kay Kleist shows you how to spot the danger -- and a simple way to fix it.

Somehow, thieves got into the apartment of Jen Maravegias.

"They pried the back door open and then pried this interior door open," she says. "It's distressing. I actually cried out of stress and surprise that it happened."

After the November break-in, she had both deadbolts replaced. CBS 2 brought in locksmith Chuck McKeag in to check her doors. They didn't measure up. Among the problems: The hole that catches the bolt wasn't deep enough for it to fully extend.

He explained the safety risk to Jen:  "Anybody with a screwdriver easily could flip that open."

So how can you tell if your deadbolt is working properly?

Close the door and turn the bolt into its locked position. Draw a line to mark that point. Then, open the door so that you can fully extend the deadbolt. Compare it with the line you drew: Does the bolt fully extend?

Safety also depends on the type of bolt you buy. McKeag warns that there is a wide variety of quality, from sold metal to lighter metal to low-grade locks with plastic parts. Some of the latter can be broken by hand.

McKeag properly re-installed Jen's deadbolt.

"I'm gonna sleep better tonight, and I'm sure that when my husband comes home tonight he'll be super-excited to see the door is locking all the way. One less thing to worry about," she says.

Jen believes her original deadbolts were improperly installed. Locksmiths say that's often the case with do-it-yourself jobs.

Another reason for bolts not locking securely is house-settling, which puts the deadbolt and frame out of alignment.

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