How Do I Pick a Home Security System in Colorado Springs?
Look at Crime Data
Colorado Springs, home to more than 460,000 people, has its share of crime problems. According to Neighborhood Scout, the city is only safer than 11% of other U.S. cities. However, when you account for its size, it’s on par with similarly sized cities. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to worry about though. Motor vehicle theft, burglary, and theft rates in this city are all higher than the U.S. rate. People here have a 1 in 30 chance of becoming a victim to property crime.
Compared to all other U.S. cities of all sizes, Colorado Springs also has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle theft in the country. One in 217 people have their car stolen here. You might think that auto theft only happens in parking garages or dark alleys, but that’s not the case in Colorado Springs. It’s common for thieves to steal your car right from your driveway, garage, or the street in front of your house. If your family has a car, there are steps you can take to protect it.
Outdoor security cameras and yard signs have been proven to scare off thieves before they attempt to enter your property. This is especially true if you go with ADT. Their blue and white octagonal logo is easily recognizable. Thieves will know that going after your car isn’t worth it. For outdoor security cameras, we recommend Frontpoint’s. Their $199 outdoor security camera offers night vision, Wi-Fi connectivity, and easy self-installation.
Violent crime is another concern here. Colorado Springs has some of the highest violent crime rates in the nation. Most notably, the city’s rate of rape is more than double the U.S. rate. While rape can and does occur in places outside of the home, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that more than half of cases occur in or around the victim’s home. A security system will increase your safety, especially at night.
Think About Your Neighborhood
Crime rates aren’t consistent throughout the city. Some neighborhoods are much safer than others. Some areas, like the six below, are far more dangerous:
- Palmer Park Blvd / N Circle Dr
- S Hancock Ave / E Pikes Peak Ave
- S Circle Dr / Server Dr
- City Center
- Stratton Meadows
- S Chelton Rd / Airport Rd
If you live in one of these neighborhoods, investing in a home security system is a no brainer. ADT’s landline system is a cost-effective way to get basic, barebones home security at low monthly rate. To see how your neighborhood stacks up, visit the Community Crime Map website. There, you can search for crime incidents based on your home address.
Consider the Weather
Colorado Springs delivers the full range of seasons. In the winter, approximately 24 days are at or below freezing and approximately 5 nights drop to sub-zero temperatures. Cold temperatures like these put your pipes at risk of freezing and can hike up your heating bill. Temperature/water sensors and smart thermostats help you cope with both problems.
Vivint’s Smart Thermostat uses AI technology to learn your family’s routine and then adjusts the temperature accordingly. You can also adjust from the control panel or the Vivint app. How is this helpful? Consider this: while you drive home from work on a cold snowy day, your home starts heating up to a comfortable temperature. You arrive home to a cozy, warm atmosphere without feeling guilty because you weren’t wasting money or energy heating your home while everyone was away. This same idea applies during the 18 days per year that hit 90°F.
Below-freezing temperatures also threaten your home’s pipes. That’s why our top picks all sell flood/freeze sensors. These sensors can be placed in near pipes or a laundry machine in the basement. If the sensor detects water or a temperature approaching 40°F or so, it will send out a notification, giving you time to avoid expensive damage. Frontpoint’s sensors tend to be more affordable, which is great if you have several areas that need monitored.
Think About Your Household
Do you Own Your Home or Rent?
Frontpoint, ADT, and Vivint all have equally great perks for homeowners, but Frontpoint stands out for the 36.31% of households that rent in Colorado Springs. You can install the equipment yourself in under 30 minutes without having to drill a single hole into your wall. Plus, the system moves with you for free should you move. ADT and Vivint can move with you too, but the process isn’t as seamless.
Do you Participate in Home Sharing?
Tourists love Colorado Springs. If you’re one of the hundreds of households that hosts short-term renters, you have unique home security needs.
Frontpoint sells affordable add-ons like smart locks, outdoor security cameras, and a video doorbell that would make your rental property more marketable, safer, and more convenient. With the smart lock, you won’t have to hand out keys. Your guests use a unique code to enter your home, which you can remove once they leave. Their outdoor cameras will also add a visible layer of security to your home’s exterior without violating your guests’ privacy like an indoor camera would do.
Do You Own Cats or Dogs?
Colorado Springs has plenty of dog parks, veterinarians, and dog-friendly activities, so it makes sense if your family has at least one furry member. Dogs and cats are a big cause of false alarms, so keep that in mind as you choose a system.
Frontpoint, ADT, and Vivint all sell pet-friendly infrared motion detectors that seek to reduce false alarms. Vivint’s won’t detect pets weighing up to 33 to 55 pounds and Frontpoint’s won’t detect pets weighing up to 40 pounds. With ADT, the professional technician can adjust the sensitivity based on your pet’s size.
Vivint’s smart home automation equipment also makes it easy for you to unlock and lock your doors for dog walkers or pet sitters. With the Vivint Doorbell camera, you can communicate with the sitter remotely when they’re standing on your porch. Then, you can unlock the door for them using the Vivint App. If they’re a trusted person, you can even give them a keycode to use to access your home.
Are You a Military Family?
Colorado Springs is home to the Fort Carson U.S. Army Base and the Fort Peterson Air Force Base. Do you live on base? All three of our top picks for home security in Colorado Springs offer some perks that you may be eligible for if you’re a military family.
Vivint normally charges a $99 activation fee when a family relocates. They make an exception for military families that must move because of relocation or deployment orders. You will need to have the equipment re-installed at your new home, but it won’t cost you anything. ADT goes a different route. They offer member-only benefits to military families that are USAA members. These discounts include 50% off installation costs, 10% off monthly monitoring costs, expedited service, and a military deployment credit.
Frontpoint doesn’t have any specific military discounts available, but their wireless system is easy to move with you should you have to relocate. The company will send you a moving kit with new adhesive and packaging for each component. The kit is free and, since you can install the system yourself in your new home, there’s no additional installation fee.
Factor in False Alarm Fees
In 2014, the CSPD responded to 10,500 burglary alarms—alarm calls sent out by a security system. Of those calls, 97% were false alarms. What exactly is a false alarm? The Colorado Springs City Code Section 8.5.102 defines a false alarm as, “The accidental, unintended, inadvertent or erroneous activation of an alarm indicating that there is a crime in progress at an alarm site, or the unintended activation of an alarm through equipment malfunction when no crime or other physical emergency has actually occurred.”
To recoup some of the costs caused by false alarm, Colorado Springs charges homes and businesses false alarm fees. Within any alarm registration period* (a year-long period), the first false alarm is free, the second costs $30, the third costs $75, and the fourth costs $100. If you have four false alarms during the same registration period, the police can legally stop responding your alarms. However, if they choose to keep responding, you could face a charge of $200 for a fifth false alarm.
If you have four false alarms and police stop responding, you do have options. You can petition the Alarm Administrator (Chief of Police) to reinstate your alarm system. This requires a written request and a $100 reinstatement fee. The Chief of Police will make their decision based on your alarm user history, the location, the number of employees/people in your building, etc. They may request that you have your alarm inspected or that you attend an alarm user training class.
Vivint, ADT, and Frontpoint are aware of the fines imposed on false alarms. That’s why these companies offer services and devices like pet-friendly motion detectors and video monitoring. Since a lot of false alarms occur due to misuse of equipment, it’s also helpful to go with a company that’s easy to use. Frontpoint’s equipment is very user-friendly and easy to control with the Frontpoint app. Plus, their known for their exceptional customer service team. Representatives can guide you through installation seamlessly and answer any questions you have along the way.
*Alarm Registration: Colorado Spring requires alarm permits if you want police response. Here, your alarm company (not you) is responsible for submitting an alarm registration form to the local police. This includes a $24 permit renewal view, which is discounted to $12 or seniors. The Colorado Springs Police Department has the right to refuse a response if your alarm is not permitted and there’s no evidence of a crime.
Colorado Springs Police Department
Approximately 680 police officers serve the City of Colorado, which is low compared to cities of similar sizes. In 2017, the department announced that it hopes to employee an additional 100 officers by 2027. This would help remedy some of the problems caused by the current shortage of police officers. Colorado Springs police officers work out of the Police Operations Center and four police stations: Gold Hill, Sand Creek, Falcon, and Stetson Hills.
CSPD Response Times & Statistics
According to their Annual Statistical Report, CSPD officers received 305,870 calls for service in 2017. More than 10,000 of these calls were initiated by burglary alarms and another 70 were for home invasions. Given the officer shortages and high call volume, it comes at no surprise that the CSPD isn’t meeting their response goals.
Now, while there’s no national benchmark for police departments to follow in terms of response time, the department still sets a goal for itself. It wants to respond to all priority one calls within 8 minutes 90 percent of the time. In Colorado Springs, priority one calls are those where there is “an imminent threat to life.” This includes crimes like robberies, sexual assaults, shootings, home invasions, and in-progress assaults.
Is the department meeting that goal? No. As of July 2018, the department only meets the goal 47% of the time. Their median response time for priority one calls is 9 minutes and 22 seconds. The clock runs from the moment the 911-operator says hello until the moment the officer arrives on the scene. Staffing shortages and a large service area are two explanations for the lag in response times. Moving forward, the city is planning to add more patrol officers and change the dispatch system to make it more efficient.
In the meantime, ADT has a service that can assist you in case you ever need a response to your home. If you sign up for their Alarm Response Program (added monthly fee plus two-year contract), an Alarm Response Officer would come to your home whenever your alarm activates. They’ll wait with you until police arrive (which would take longer than 10 minutes if it’s not a priority 1 call) and even inspect your home for signs of a break-in. Other services include neighborhood patrol, mail relocation, and vacation watch.
Neighborhood Watch is a program used by many cities across the U.S. It brings neighbors together, encouraging them to look out for suspicious activity and call it in if necessary. Neighbors attend semi-regular meetings, receive guidance from the police department, and help make their neighborhood a safer place to live. If you’re interested in joining or starting a group, contact the Crime Prevention Officer in your area.
Crime Prevention Program
Still unsure about what you need in terms of home security? You can have a specialized officer from the CSPD Crime Prevention Program come to your home and give you an on-site security assessment. This knowledge is extremely valuable because these officers are specially trained to help business and homes reduce their risk of becoming a victim to crime.
Coffee with a Cop
Once per month, the Colorado Springs Police Department hosts Coffee with a Cop. The purpose is to bring officers and community members together at a public place to enjoy coffee. Building a personal connection with an officer, sharing your address, and addressing your concerns will go a long way toward making you feel safer. Check out the Coffee with a Cop schedule to see when the next meet-up is.
Colorado Springs Fire Department
The Colorado Springs Fire Department fight fires, provides basic medical services, and responds to calls for help across the city, including calls from your home security system. Every firefighter on the force is a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and many are even Paramedics. They work out of 22 stations spread throughout the city and have the following resources:
- 22 Engine Companies
- 6 Truck Companies
- 1 Hazmat Team
- 1 Heavy Rescue Team
- 3 Medical Squads
- 11 Brush Trucks
- 1 Air Supply Truck
- 1 Hazmat Vehicle
- 1 Hose Wagon
In 1999, Colorado Springs city council approved two response time standards for the Colorado Springs Fire Department. The first is to have a minimum of one responding vehicle on the scene of an emergency within eight minutes 90 percent of the time. In 2012, the CSFD achieved that goal. However, response times have dropped ever since. In 2018, the CSFD only arrived on scene within eight minutes 84.2 percent of the time.
Fortunately, the CSFD does a better job meeting the second standard. This standard states that the fire department must have a full squad (two engines and one truck) on the scene of any structural fire call within 12 minutes 90 percent of the time. Residents living on the outskirts of town face the slowest response times due to travel. Looking toward the future, the fire chief hopes that adding more staff and another fire station can help the department meet the first standard.
As a homeowner, you can’t do much to speed up the actual response, but you can make sure that you call in the emergency as fast as possible to minimize damages. Monitored smoke and CO alarms help with this. ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint all sell monitored environmental protection devices. They detect gas, smoke, and rising temperatures early, giving you time to remedy a problem before it worsens. The alarms also notify you and your monitoring company. Even if you’re away from the house and your phone, ADT, Vivint, or Frontpoint can call for help for you.
Wildfires are a problem in certain areas of the city, so the CSFD Wildfire Mitigation unit seeks to educate citizens on how to minimize the risk of wildfire. To assess your home’s risk level, visit the Wildfire Risk Level map created by the department. Search by address. If your home is in a high-risk area, invest in smoke alarms and use the resources on the department website to improve your home’s fire preparedness.