Chicago’s struggle with crime is nothing new. Your decision to put in a home security system in Chicago is a no-brainer. The tricky part is deciding which one. Considering Chicago’s crime, weather, and other quirks, we recommend ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint. No matter which of these home security companies you choose, you can’t go wrong. Just get to know their differences to decide what’s best for your home.
Top 3 Picks for Chicago Home Security
- ADT: Great for believers in the tried and true, ADT has more than 140 years of home security experience. Millions use their services, so they’re more than prepared for any emergency or situation that arises in you home. Plans range from $19.99 for monitoring only to $52.99 for home automation and remote live video streaming. If home automation is your priority, ADT falls on the pricy side. If you just need basic security, they’re a great fit.Basic ADT security equipment includes door and window sensors, a control panel, a keychain remote, a backup battery, a yard sign, a window decal, and a high-decibel siren.
- Frontpoint: Frontpoint joined the home security game in 2007, but don’t let their greenness fool you. This security company delivers on customer service, innovation, and DIY installation. Plans range from $34.99 to $49.99 and equipment bundles start at around $100 for homeowners who sign on for a three-year contract. Renters pay more but have the benefit of only signing a one-year contract. Plus, the adhesive-backed equipment doesn’t require drilling holes in the walls. Your landlord will certainly appreciate that!Frontpoint’s basic equipment includes a central hub and keypad, door/window sensors, and glass break sensors.
- Vivint: Vivint offers more than just home security. Their smart home compatible equipment can transform any home into a smart tech fortress. Use Vivint’s equipment to control your thermostat, front door, lights, and more. If you’re looking for just basic security, Vivint isn’t for you. Their monitoring services cost $39.99 to $49.99 and equipment packages start at $700, which is pricy compared to our other picks.With Vivint, all packages come with a touchscreen panel, six smart sensors, and two Google Home Minis. Choose between door/window, motion detectors, glass break detectors, flood/freeze sensors, and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.
4 Reasons for Home Security in Chicago
Why exactly do you want a home security system?
Are you interested in smart home automation? Worried about having your car stolen? Did you neighbor just have a break-in? Maybe it’s all the above. Whatever the reason(s), let it guide your decision about which security company to go with.
Below are a few reasons you may want to install a home security system in Chicago. Read through the list and decide what your home needs protection from. You’ll also see some ways that ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint go above and beyond to safeguard your home.
- There are High Crime Rates in Chicago
It’s unclear why so many violent and property crimes occur in Chicago. Like any major city, Chicago has its share of street gangs, blight, and socioeconomic tensions. But crime rates here are through the roof. The city is one of the most dangerous in America. You have a one in 23 chance of becoming a victim to a violent or property crime. Murder, robbery, assault, vehicle theft, and theft rates far exceed national averages.
When arming your home with a security system, it’s easy to focus on the front of your house. It faces the street, so it seems like the most obvious entry point. In Chicago, home burglars tend to target rear doors and windows. Forgetting to arm these areas, especially if your security system doesn’t have a motion detector, leaves your home vulnerable.
ADT and Vivint both require professional installation. While scheduling a technician visit might seem like a hassle, it actually adds value to your home security system. The technician will bring along extra equipment and make personalized security recommendations for your home. They can show you how to arm the rear of your home so that your home is safer than ever.
If you can’t afford to add sensors to every door and window, don’t fret. Research has shown that deterring a home invader can be as simple as making it known that you have a security system. Do this by displaying your home security stickers or yard signs or putting in an outdoor camera. ADT’s long-standing reputation and brand recognition gives them an edge in this area.
For outdoor security cameras, Frontpoint has a bit of an edge in terms of price. Their video feed monitoring plan costs less than the competition and their cameras are reasonably priced. The outdoor video camera connects to Wi-Fi and streams to your phone. At night, its infrared vision mode still captures clear footage. You also get control over the motion detection settings, brightness, contrast, sharpness, exposure, and saturation. Chicago’s cold weather won’t interfere either. It operates in 4° to 122° F weather.
- Chicago Experiences Storms and Low Temperatures
In Chicago, you and your home experience every season—a hot and humid summer, calm fall, freezing winter, and stormy spring. With each season comes a slew of potential problems in your home that affect you and your budget.
Winter days in Chicago average out to 16 °F. Your heating bill rises and so does the risk of your pipes freezing. Frozen pipes can lead to burst pipes, which is an expensive but avoidable problem. Vivint’s solution, a smart water sensor, detects moisture and temperature changes, notifying you when it’s time to take proactive measures. The sensor sends out an alert if the room’s temperature falls below 41 °F or if it detects moisture. Install it near your basement pipes. It stays active all day even if your system is unarmed.
Spring in Chicago is filled with rainy days and severe storms like thunderstorms, hail, and even tornadoes. Flood sensors and back-up batteries come in handy in the Spring time. Frontpoint’s wireless system has the longest-lasting back-up battery of our top three picks. During a power outage, your Frontpoint system keeps working and even lets you know when power returns.
Worried about Spring flooding? ADT’s flood sensor detects water before extensive damage occurs. The sensors run off batteries, so you can place them wherever they’re needed. If your home has flooded in the past, place a flood sensor near that area. This way, you’ll know right when water starts to infiltrate instead of stumbling across it later when it’s too late to save your belongings.
During Chicago’s hot summers, Vivint and ADT’s smart thermostats come in handy. They offer remote control over your home’s thermostat. Forget to turn the AC before you left for work? No worries. Just use the corresponding app to get it done. You can even create a temperature schedule for your home. For example, set it to keep the house cool as you’re falling asleep and also to bring the temperature down during the nighttime hours. You’ll save money without even trying.
- Porch Pirates are Striking Chicago
Do you shop online a lot? Have meal kits sent to your home? Porch pirates are thieves that steal packages off your porch. Not even a sweater is safe from porch pirates in Chicago. By analyzing the location of users who searched Google for the phrase “Amazon Package Stolen,” Shorr Packaging Corp created a list of cities with the highest package theft rates. Chicago ranked No. 13.
Stolen packages have an average value of $50 to $100 and a free replacement isn’t guaranteed. Police struggle to track down these porch thieves too. If you frequently online shop, or even have medication delivered regularly, Vivint’s doorbell camera and smart keypad lock can help you out.
The doorbell camera’s sleek design displays a doorbell on the bottom and a 180-degree camera lens at the top. It connects with the Vivint app, so as long as you have your phone, you’re connected with your visitors. You get a notification when someone approaches your home and you can communicate directly through the app. You could easily scare away a porch pirate all while getting their face on camera.
When used with the smart keypad lock, you can also give guidelines to your mail carrier. If you trust them, simply grant them access to your home by unlocking the door remotely. They can slip your package inside where it’s safe. Vivint’s smart home technology isn’t the most affordable, but if you frequently have packages delivered, it’s well worth considering.
- Fire-Risk is High for Many Chicago Neighborhoods
Some areas of Chicago are more likely to have home fires. A house fire risk map created by DataKind shows the home fire risk in neighborhoods across the country. If you live in the South or West side of Chicago, you’re at a high risk of having a home or apartment fire. Specific high-risk neighborhoods include West Englewood, Back of the Yards, Austin, Roseland, and Humboldt Park. Not only are these areas at a high risk compared to other Chicago neighborhoods, but they’re at a high risk compared to other areas throughout the country. Look up your neighborhood on the risk map.
Whether you live in one of these neighborhoods or not, you need fire protection in your home. This includes surge protectors, fire extinguishers, and smoke alarms. Non-profits like the American Red Cross install smoke alarms for free in some Chicago neighborhoods. But, if you’re adding a home security system, it’s better to go with a monitored smoke alarm.
Smoke alarms linked to your home security system will sound off a loud alert when smoke is detected. You’ll receive an alert on your phone and a call from your alarm company too. The monitoring center will dispatch the Chicago Fire Department if needed. ADT’s monitored smoke alarms detect everything from excess smoke coming out of your oven to a full-fledged fire. The alarms use wireless technology, so you can place them anywhere in your home.
It’s important to talk to your neighbors about fire safety too. The more people near you that have smoke alarms, the safer everyone will be. This is especially true if you live in a townhouse or apartment, where fires can quickly spread to the attached residences.
Local Home Security Options
Nation-wide security companies like ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint offer a lot. Large monitoring centers, 24/7/365 service, and top-of-the-line, well-reviewed equipment just to name a few. They aren’t your only options though. Local home security companies in Chicago know your neighborhood and can make personalized recommendations based on what street you live on. Below are four highly-rated Chicago security companies. Check them out and see how they stack up against our top three picks.
- Alert Protective Services
- Security Doctors
- Skynet Security Systems
- Imperial Surveillance, Inc
- MI Security
Public Safety Initiatives and Resources in Chicago
An alarm system keeps your home safe, but in an ideal world, you’ll never have to use it. In an effort to reduce crime (and the likelihood that you’ll ever need to use your system), the City of Chicago funds a number of crime prevention resources and safety initiatives.
Chicago Police Department
The Chicago Police Department, famous for its depictions on various television shows, works tirelessly to keep Chicago homes and streets safe. More than 12,000 sworn officers and 1,500 civilian employees work together to prevent and solve crimes in Chicago. This makes the CPD the second largest municipal police department in the nation. It’s not done growing either. A 2016 proposal by the Mayor and Police Superintendent lays out plans to increase the police force to 13,500. In a city full of crime, the added officers are certainly needed.
Community Policing in Chicago
Officers work across 22 districts and 279 police beats. Each police beat is made up of 9-10 officers. Beat officers are a big part of Chicago’s Community Policing strategy. You’ve probably seen them around. They work within the same area, so they’re familiar with your neighborhood, local businesses, and crime trends. You’ll see these officers patrolling the streets by car, by foot, and by bike. If you haven’t already, get to know your local police officers. They’re a great resource if you have any questions about crime near your home.
Beat officers host beat meetings where police and the community brainstorm solutions for local crime. Police don’t see or know everything that goes on in a community and neither do you. Holding the meetings is a way for both parties to exchange information. Can’t make the meetings? You can report community concerns online too.
Chicago’s growing crime problem has also led to an increased national law enforcement presence. The FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) have divisions in Chicago. These agents work alongside police to implement crime prevention measures and to solve crimes. Investigators focus on notably violent areas like the 11th District on West Side and the 7th District on South Side. These areas have active gangs, which leads to shootings, homicide and burglaries. An increased law enforcement presence has helped make the streets a little safer.
Neighborhood-Specific Crime Tracking
The CPD closely tracks and sorts crime data on ClearMap. Easily see what’s been going on in your neighborhood, near your kid’s school, or along your morning commute. Sort by crime type, time, and location. When looking at the map, hover your mouse over the different icons to see information about where and when the specific incident took place. For example, hovering over the burglary icons will reveal location data like residence, residence-garage, convenience store, etc.
If you see a lot of residence-garage burglaries in your neighborhood, it’d be smart to secure your garage. Outdoor cameras and smart garage door controller are the way to go. The cameras help deter criminals from even attempting to enter your home. The sensor tracks whether your garage door is closed or open, even just partially. If it’s forcibly opened while you’re at work, you’ll be alerted.
Frontpoint sells both types of security equipment at an affordable rate as compared to ADT and Vivint. Again, their video cameras link to your phone, use infrared LED night vision, and have a sleek, non-offensive look. For garage door and outdoor camera monitoring, you’ll need Frontpoint’s $49.99 per month Ultimate plan. The cameras are $199.99 each the garage door controller costs $69.99.
False Alarm Policy
As of 2009, the City of Chicago and the CPD no longer charge residential burglar alarm users a false alarm fee. This is unusual for a city of this size, so it’s possible the policy will change in the future. If you’re using an alarm system to protect your business, Chicago has a no-mercy policy. Your first false alarm costs $100 and costs go up to $200 per false alarm depending on the quantity.
Chicago Fire Department
The Chicago PD aren’t the only ones with a large presence. The Chicago Fire Department is the third largest municipal fire department in the United States. Their 4,500 firefighters and EMS technicians field more than 700,000 calls each year. Due to its large size, Chicago is home to 98 fire stations. This keeps resources spread throughout the city to help improve response times and save lives.
Here’s a look at the department’s vast resources:
- 96 fire engines
- 61 fire trucks
- 4 rescue squads
- 80 ambulances
- 2 HAZMAT units
- 2 urban search and rescue teams
- 10 airport crash tenders
- 2 helicopters
- 2 fireboats
Have questions about fire safety? Visit the CFD’s Fire Safety Tips page. You’ll find tip sheets in four languages that cover several topics like residential high-rise fire safety, smoke detectors, and holiday fire safety.
If you or someone in your household has a disability, it’s important to register with the Chicago Fire Department. Firefighters and EMS personnel are most effective when they know exactly what extra assistance might be needed in case of an emergency.
Know what’s going on in the city at large and in your neighborhood. Chicago’s alert system, NotifyChicago, sends out emergent and non-emergent texts or emails to anyone who signs up. You’ll be the first to know about severe weather emergencies, traffic alerts, and more. You can sign up online. You have the options to stop notifications at any time, but we recommend that you don’t. It’s important to stay informed and prepared.
Alley Light Request
Dark alleys invite crime. A lighted path can help deter crime and make everyone feel safer. Have alleys in your neighborhood? You can request alley lights or additional alley lights from the City of Chicago. If you see vandalized alley lights or outages, call 311.