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A lot of caper movies feature bad guys who quickly and effortlessly pick locks. Here in the boring real world, burglars aren’t so sneaky: Most gain access to homes via unlocked windows or doors, or push open poorly secured ones. So before throwing big money at a company to install and monitor a home security system, equip all exterior doors with good deadbolt locks—and then use them. A few easy steps can further beef up your locks.

Since our ratings of locksmith services turned up many that provide excellent work, shop around to make sure you don’t pay too much. You’ll find that fees vary dramatically, with some outfits charging more than twice as much as their competitors for the same work. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay more for the best service: We found that several of the highest rated locksmiths also charge low fees.

If you can, pay for locks and locksmithing work with a credit card. The Fair Credit Billing Act and the dispute-resolution policies of credit card issuers allow consumers to refuse payment for faulty products and services.