It is easy to choose smart deadbolts, we are not alarmed
There’s a point in any decent movie or TV thriller where the protagonist finds a locked door and, without stopping, pulls out a credit card, or a hairpin, or maybe a tidy lockpick kit. and bound in leather. With a few expert moves, the door gives way and we viewers happily accept this absurd little trope, as if picking a lock could be so easy.
Except sometimes it’s that easy. And picking a lock might not be the big deal it seems (more details below).
How we learned to be crocheters
Not that long ago, just out of curiosity, we bought a cheapo lockpick kit from Amazon while we were testing some smart deadbolt locks. And in no time, we made the grim discovery that it is much less complicated to push and sink a good variety of popular locks (smart and non-smart) and successfully open them, usually in a matter of minutes – and sometimes within seconds. . (No, really: I have an impatient 6-year-old with goofy fingers, and he successfully entered a practice padlock.) To be clear, there are tons of padlocks that are tough and even almost impossible (but not in fact impossible) to choose. But many of the popular deadbolts and door locks sold in big box stores (locks that can live on your front and back doors right now) are the kind that my sweet boy, who can’t tell the difference. between a hammer and a screwdriver, has a good chance of breaking and entering.
On the surface, it’s not great, for obvious reasons (unless you’re a movie star hero). So, for about a year, in testing our guide to the best smart locks, we’ve tried to penetrate our smart lock candidates. When we managed to break a lock, we tried to repeat the process, to make sure it was not the result of some stupid coincidence. We then excluded vulnerable locks from Wirecutter choices; this has happened twice. (We’ve tried to trick fingerprint scanners as well, with some success. But that’s for another article.)
After about a year of going through this process – and finding a few more locks that were easily pickable – we had a discussion among the editors and did some research. We also took a closer look at the 2019 FBI Annual Crime Statistics Report (the most recent available) and any burglary rate studies we could find. And now we don’t think it’s that bad.
Burglars are like us, they’re in a hurry
Crime statistics may be skewed, but the overall trends for burglaries are stable and very encouraging: burglaries have declined by over 80% since the 1980s. Estimates vary, but many insurance and insurance companies alarms report that most burglaries take about 10 minutes (and sometimes much less). This makes sense because time is a big factor for a burglar – the Insurance Information Institute says most burglars give up if it takes more than four or five minutes to break in. And in most cases, burglars usually don’t rely on a burglar. skills: FBI data shows that in 2019, about a third of burglars gained access to a property through unlocked or open entrances. About two-thirds of them broke or attempted to break and enter. This includes everything from forcing an opening or kicking a door or forcing a window, in addition to lockpicking. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (which collects crime data nationwide) does not have information on how often lock picking occurs during burglaries. But one of the few sources – a 2012 UNC Charlotte study (PDF) of repeat offenders from three states – suggests that this is a rarely used skill.
When you put all of these statistics together, you realize that burglars are quite reasonably looking for the fastest way to do their job, with the least risk of getting caught. Security expert Marc Weber Tobias confirmed this notion in our guide to the best door lock. “Here’s the problem: Burglars don’t pick locks. Burglars don’t take care of that, ”he said. Instead, imagine a person sneaking around doorknobs or attempting a quick crush on someone standing at a door, adrenaline rushing in and taking an unknown amount of time to play with a collection of hooks, in the hopes of get it right before being spotted and the cops arrive. Surely it has to happen, but it’s not the right thing an owner needs to focus on. The most important statistic you need to know to protect your home is that burglars avoid homes that are well lit and have security cameras and / or security systems.
Deadbolts you should consider
All of this doesn’t mean that we would one day recommend that you get some unwanted material. Rather, we consider a well-constructed deadbolt essential, as burglars often start their work by breaking a lock, and locks typically have an ANSI grade, which reflects the durability of their hardware. Our pick for the best smart lock, the Ultralock U-Bolt Pro, has a heavy-duty brass bolt as well as a Schlage C keyway; it’s in the process of being certified, but the company expects an ANSI Grade 1. The Schlage Encode is also ANSI Grade 1 (our other choices are adapter models, which are based on your existing deadbolt, and therefore they don’t ‘do not have ANSI grade).
Our Bottom Line: We don’t necessarily think an owner should overlook a deadbolt or lock that is otherwise sturdy, with a good feature set, just because it’s selectable. After all, if you ask a locksmith (or professional locksmith), they will tell you that there has never been a lock that cannot be picked.