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Burglar-proofing your home for a dollar

Eyewitness News took a look at how to burglar-proof your home for a dollar. (WCHS/WVAH)

As property crime rates rise in the wake of the national drug epidemic, many are turning to high-tech, high-dollar security measures to keep pace.

But there is a simple $1 fix you can do yourself to prevent break-ins.

First of all, kicking in the front door is not the easiest way in to a house, but professional locksmith Patrick Torkelson said it works -- a fact well known by thieves.

There is a burglary in the United States every few seconds and more than half the time the crook is breaking in through the back door, according to Safe Sound Family . It's a crime that is costing Americans billions of dollars every year, not to mention the helpless, violated feeling victims describe.

But there is a simple and inexpensive fix. It begins by throwing away a couple of seemingly important screws. The screws that come with most door latches are very short.

"It's like half an inch long," Torkelson said.

This poses an innate security problem.

"This little half inch screw is only going into the beauty portion of the frame. It's a half-inch piece of wood," Torkelson said.

Instead, Torkelson said to buy a couple of 3-inch stainless steel screws that will dig five or six times deeper into the wall.

"Now, much stronger," Torkelson said.

When Eyewitness News decided to try it, our crew learned some things.

Lesson one: our reporter was not strong enough to kick down a door, so we brought in the big guns to kick in the door. Construction worker Chuck Grishhaber made short work of the "half-inch screw" door, but only because the door failed first.

Lesson two: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

At the next home, 3-inch screws dug deep into the wall but didn't stand a chance against Grishhaber.

This one failed because the strike plate wasn't lined up with the studs inside the wall. The drywall and insulation got blown away by the kick.

Two homes, both scheduled for demolition, didn't stand up to the test, but new construction in Salt Lake City may be better suited for the experiment.

Matt Gephart, with WCHS-TV’s sister station KUTV, makes short work of the half-inch screws, tearing the strike plate out of the frame.

Torkelson said that is what happens "when you don't use the studs."

The 3-inch screws here fare much better.

There is no chance to break through on solid construction and 3-inch screws, even when Torkelson joined in for a try. He kicked the door again and it didn't budge.

The fix costs about $1.

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