CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Home break-ins are a major problem in the Queen City, but there could be some affordable, but usable tools you can purchase to battle criminals.

The number one way crooks get into your home is by busting down the front door.

And police say you probably made it easy for crooks because of the way your deadbolt was installed.

"It's not properly installed, not properly anchored," said one police officer, pointing out a weakness in a door. "It's not going to do a whole lot. Typically, when a door is kicked in, the deadbolt holds just fine, but the trim wood is split open by the deadbolt."

To combat this, officers suggest replacing the standard three-quarter-inch screws that come with most locksets with 3-inch stainless steel screws. You can get two for around a dollar at any hardware store.

"Instead of holding the strike plate into the trim wood, it actually holds it into the stud plate in the back of the wall," the officer said.

That protection is much stronger and is more likely to deter criminals. To put the 3-inch screws to the test, NBC Charlotte asked a martial arts expert to kick in a door with a three-quarter inch screw installed. The wood frame around the door busted in.

We then installed the longer 3-inch screw into the stud. The martial arts expert ended up with his foot through the door, but the frame held up doing its job.

But why stop with doors? NBC Charlotte also found safeguarding your windows on the cheap can really make it challenging to break-in.

Lock-it Block-it promises security for your windows. It costs about $20 and lets you keep your windows cracked without inviting criminals in.

You put sticky Velcro on the back of the brace, place them at the top of the window, set to the desired height and the window is now much more secured.

"It was very strong and almost pushed it back down a little bit," said Lorelei Colbert.

And there are many other affordable items you can snag as deterrents for criminals that all cost less than $10, ranging from a recorded barking dog, a fake security camera or a phony alarm sign.