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Front Door Locked? Maybe Not

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A young Dallas woman stands outside the backdoor to her apartment where she used to live alone. She is afraid to show her face because she is scared "they" may come back.

"They jumped over the fence, crawled between these air conditioning units and came up to the back door and you can see they damaged the door."

She's an attractive woman in her early twenties who is very independent, but what happened next has scarred her.

"They bent the frame and marred the side of the door," she explains.

Her door had been deadbolt locked but thieves simply unlocked it from the outside, without a key, and walked right in to her apartment.

"What happens if another set of crazies decide to break in but instead of taking something they decide they want to hurt me? That's something that makes it hard to sleep at night."

She lost a big screen television and her sense of security. A friend who happens to be a security expert came to check out the damage when he discovered this was "preventable." Steve Dunbar took pictures after the burglary. He says they show how the mortise was not deep enough for the bolt to travel all the way into the door frame. He says this prevented the bolt from going all the way into the extended deadlock position. He explained how any flat tool could be used from the outside of the door to push the lock back and open the door.

"How many other locks from single females who are home alone or single moms who are home during the day…how many other locks are installed improperly and can facilitate a good burglary?" asked Dunbar.

CBS 11 also wanted to know, so we showed the pictures Dunbar took to the experts at the Associated Locksmiths of America.

"It's a big problem. I see it all the time," said Joey LaChaussee. LaChaussee has been a locksmith for decades and is now the Public Education Director at the Association. He reviewed the pictures of the Dallas woman's home.

"When I got to this picture right here, I knew immediately that the hole was not drilled deep enough and you can tell the depth was not one inch." He said if the lock had been installed properly, no one should have been able to get into the apartment as easily.

LaChaussee also estimates that one in every ten- new homes has door locks that are improperly installed just like this. He says the mortise is not drilled deep enough.

He then showed us how quickly this can happen. With a door locked but not locked all the way into the dead lock position, he used a flat tool and opened a door in less than 10-seconds. The demonstration showed how vulnerable the Dallas woman was night after night when she thought her door was locked.

To see the simple way to check your door locks at home, watch our CBS 11 investigation. The fix can be a quick one that you can do yourself.

And, remember, even if your mortise is deep enough for the bolt to travel into, this can still happen if you fail to turn your deadbolt all the way into the door. Or, if your foundation has shifted and your deadbolt will no longer go in correctly.

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