Worried about your home’s safety? If you live in Denver, you have reason to be. Like any large city, Denver has its share of crime. Take Denver’s weather, crime rates, and other city-specific data into consideration as you choose a home security system. Not every system works for every city or every family. We think ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint do a solid job at keeping Denver families safe.
Think about these questions as you consider what system and features to go with:
What is Your Budget?
You want what’s best for your family but you need to be realistic about cost. Common home security costs include monthly monitoring fees, installation fees, equipment costs, alarm permits, and false alarm fees.
Starting at $27.99 per month, ADT’s wired, landline-based system is your cheapest option. But, it offers limited features and is a lot easier for criminals to disarm–they just need to cut the wire to your control hub. For a wireless ADT system, you need to pay more. These plans go up to $58.99 and require a three-year contract. Installation costs as much as $99, but equipment is included in the monthly fee.
Don’t have a landline? Your next cheapest bet is Frontpoint. Their monthly monitoring costs start at $34.99 with equipment bundles starting at $100. Renters can sign a one-year contract but homeowners must sign on for three years. Installation is free because you can install Frontpoint’s adhesive-backed equipment yourself in just 30 minutes. No drill or hammer required. If you’re part of the 38.8% of Denver residents that rent, Frontpoint is your best option.
Looking to invest in your home’s safety? Vivint’s state-of-the-art security and home automation equipment is for you. Their sleek equipment and innovative home automation solutions stand out amongst all other home security companies. Monthly monitoring fees start at just $39.99 but equipment costs range from $700 to $1800. Have a credit score about 600? You’d likely qualify for equipment financing. Make sure you have a steady income before choosing Vivint. The contract lasts for five years.
Alarm Permits and False Alarm Fees
In Denver, Colorado, you need a City-issued alarm permit and your alarm has to be monitored by a licensed monitoring company–ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint meet that criterion. You can register for the alarm permit online. Permits cost $25 and must be renewed every 365 days for an additional $25. If you fail to obtain a permit, your alarm company will have to pay a $25 fine for every call made to your home. They won’t be happy about that.
False alarms are another cost worth considering. In Denver, they come with monetary costs as well as safety costs. Every time your system is activated for false alarm, you have to pay $50. After five false alarms, police won’t respond as promptly to your calls. Your house moves to “general response” status. Officers won’t be dispatched to your home. Instead, a general announcement goes out to all officers. Police only come if someone happens to be nearby and available. That’s a scary thought should something go wrong.
Vivint, ADT, and Frontpoint all have precautions in place to help limit false alarms. Unfortunately, none of the systems are foolproof. Wireless plans linked to a phone app or wireless remote give you the best bet when it comes to avoiding false alarms. You can disable your system before entering the home, so you don’t have to rush inside and enter the security code every time you arrive home.
What Are Your Goals?
Obviously, you want to keep your family safe, but is that all? Home security systems can do much than just sound an alarm if someone breaks in. These days, it’s popular to go with a system that delivers on security, environmental protection, and home automation. Look at the different types of equipment each company offers to help you make a decision.
Vivint’s your best bet if you have a high budget and are drawn to home automation. All Vivint packages include 6 smart sensors, 1 touch screen panel, and 2 Google Home Minis. Sensor options include door/window, motion detectors, glass break detectors, flood/freeze detectors, and smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. Add-on items like a doorbell camera, key-ring compatible remote control, smart thermostat, smart locks, security cameras, and additional smart sensors all cost extra.
If you just want minimum security without all of the frills, ADT’s wired system or Frontpoint’s basic package has you covered. ADT’s basic package includes a control panel, base system, one motion sensor, wireless sensors, a wireless remote, back-up battery, a yard sign, and window decals. Frontpoint’s includes a hub, a keypad panel, two door/window sensors, and one motion sensor. Both companies do offer smart equipment and additional products like smart locks, cameras, and environmental detection sensors. For the most part, their offerings and the quality isn’t as good as Vivint’s. Good news is that they do cost a lot less.
How Safe is Your Neighborhood?
You live there, so you should keep track of what goes on there. Familiarize yourself with crime in your neighborhood so that you can keep your home safe. The Denver Police Department uses crime mapping software to make all crime data accessible to the community. Visit the online Denver Crime Map to search by address or intersection.
Overall, Denver isn’t exactly a safe city. Neighborhood Scout reports that Denver is only safer than 9% of U.S. cities. Burglary, motor vehicle theft, and theft rates far exceed the national average. Just looking at those property crimes, your chances of becoming a victim are 1 in 28.
More property crime prone neighborhoods in Denver include DIA (Denver International Airport), CBD (Central Business District), Union Station, Stapleton, Baker, and Jefferson Park. That accounts for residential burglary, business burglary, arson, and auto theft rates. Just looking at residential burglary rates, crime dense areas include Clayton, Cole, Stapleton, Regis, Washington Park West, and Lincoln Park.
Live in one of these dangerous areas? A home security system can help. Vivint, ADT, and Frontpoint all have their perks, but Frontpoint is the most convenient if you need home security fast. You can order all equipment on their website and opt for overnight shipping. Installation takes just 30 minutes and is 100% DIY. You won’t have to drill or hammer any holes in your walls either. Each piece of wall-hanging equipment has adhesive backing.
Are Your Pipes Insulated?
In Denver, December temperatures average out to 29.9°F. Some of Denver’s coldest nights fall as low as -10 °F. Temperatures this cold will freeze your pipes, causing plumbing problems like burst pipes. Not only are these repairs costly, but they’re inconvenient. If your pipes aren’t insulated or you have a cold basement or garage, you need to take proactive measures.
Placing temperature sensors in your home’s coldest areas will keep you in the know so that you can remedy the situation quickly. Vivint, Frontpoint, and ADT* all offer temperature sensors. Using the corresponding apps, you can set a temperature range. The sensor, which runs off of a battery, sends out an alert if temperatures exceed or fall below the range. This gives you time to set up a space heater or take other measures to prevent your pipes from freezing.
*ADT only provides monitoring for such sensors with their upper tier Plus plans.
Do You Frequently Purchase Products Online?
Online shopping is convenient and lots of people do it, but it can cause some problems. In Denver, police have noticed an increase in stolen packages year-over-year since 2015. The problem happens in other cities, but Denver makes it a point to release data about these incidents. Calling them “porch pirates,” a spokesman for the Denver Police Department said the arrest rate for these thieves sits at just 7%.
Prevention is the best way to stop these pirates from stealing your packages. Denver Police recommend that residents file a report when package theft occurs. The item stolen from you might not be valuable, but the porch pirate will likely go on to steal bigger ticket packages from your neighbors. A report along with video footage gives police the best chances at tracking down the thief.
That’s where outdoor security cameras and doorbell cameras come in. Doorbell cameras, sold by ADT and Vivint, shoot live video when motion is detected on your porch. You can playback footage from the respective app and send it along to police. Outdoor video cameras can capture license plate information and give police a good idea of the thief’s height and weight. Vivint’s doorbell even lets you unlock your door for friends and family. If you know them, you could do the same for the delivery person. That way you know that your package is safe.
Vivint’s new Streety app also makes catching porch pirates and other criminals easier. This neighborhood watch app lets neighbors share security camera footage with one another. Maybe you don’t have cameras but your neighbor does. How helpful would it be to take a look at their outdoor camera footage to see if they caught your thief on tape? That’s what Streety is all about. While Vivint customers can automatically share footage from any of their outdoor cameras, those with other security cameras have to upload footage manually.
Along with security cameras, you can help prevent package theft in the following ways:
- Get to know your neighbors: You might have a retired neighbor or stay-at-home parent living nearby. They might be willing to let you send your packages to their home.
- Set up a single drop-off day: Amazon lets you choose to have all packages for the week delivered on the same day. Choose a day when you know someone will be home to minimize the likelihood of theft.
- Stop your mail: Going away for a few days? Put a hold on your mail. When you return, you can pick up your packages and mail at your local post office or have your mail carrier deliver them.
Denver First Responders
Denver Police Department
The DPD serves the City of Denver and the County of Denver. Their 1,518 sworn officers serve more than 2.5 million residents. The department operates six districts, which allows officers to become familiar with a certain residential or commercial area. This familiarity leads to better crime awareness, faster response times, and a stronger investment in the local community. Plus, it gives you a chance to get to know officers in your district.
Unfortunately, DPD response times severely lag behind similarly sized cities. From 2013 to 2016, average response time for priority calls did jump down from more than 15 minutes to less than 13 minutes, but it’s still not up to snuff. Responses for non-priority calls take even longer. When police take a while to respond, your home security system isn’t as effective. Sure, your alarm system can scare off intruders, but should something happen, you could be left alone for a while until police finally show up. Unless you go with ADT.
ADT’s Alarm Response program dispatches Alarm Response Officers to your home if the alarm goes off. They wear state-approved uniforms, drive marked ADT Alarm Response vehicles, and provide a security presence near your home on foot or by vehicle. Other perks include mail relocation if you’re on vacation and a security escort service that makes sure you get home safety. The program has a separate fee and requires a two-year contract. If it makes you feel safer and helps cut back on false alarms, it’s certainly worth it.
Neighborhood Crime Prevention Tips
You can do more than just arm you home with a home security system. The Denver Police Department offers plenty of helpful crime prevention tips on its website. Some of the tips include putting some lights and your TV on a timer if you’re away and choosing a chain link versus privacy fence. The DPD also recommends that you take advantage of their vacation watch program. Just call your local precinct and have them add your home to the list. Officers will keep an eye on your house while you’re gone.
Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program
Denver’s police department relies on vetted and devoted volunteers. Members of the Volunteers in Police Service Program help with activities like fingerprinting, distributing crime prevention flyers, assisting with active shooter training scenarios, and offering administrative assistance. All applicants must be 18 years or older, pass a background check, and commit to volunteering at least 30 hours per year. Volunteers also go through an intense five-phase application process. Interested in applying? Print and then fill out the VIPS application.
Denver Fire Department
Fire threatens your home and your family’s safety. Aside from having common sense, smoke alarms are your best line off defense against home fires. Unfortunately, smoke alarms don’t do much good if you’re not home. Monitored smoke alarms are another story. Even if you’re not home, your security system will alert you when your smoke alarm goes off. Your monitoring company can call it in so that the Denver Fire Department responds as quickly as possible. ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint all sell smoke alarms.
The next line of defense against home fires is your local fire department. The Denver Fire Department has 858 full-time EMS personnel and fire fighters. Together, they serve more than 690,000 Denver residents. Thirty-eight stations throughout the city oversee 32 fire engines, 8 fire trucks, 6 platform engines, 1 quintuple combination pumper, 3 heavy rescue vehicles, 2 hazardous material apparatuses, 7 airport crash tenders, 3 wildland fire engines, 1 rescue boat, and 1 light and air unit.
Despite the large force, the DFD fails to meet response time standards. The majority of stations take six to seven minutes to respond to an emergency call. This is two minutes too slow. However, if you live near 17th and Lawrence, you’re in luck. Station 4 continues to meet national standards despite its high call volume. Live in the northeast end of the city? The five fire stations there have some of the slowest response times.
Home Fire Prevention Tips
Along with fighting fires, the DFD helps the community prevent fires. You can find a number of home fire safety tips on their website. These tips cover everything from winter holidays to fire pits to electrical wiring. Read through all of them and follow as many as you can. Taking these extra measures can go a long way toward preventing a home fire.
Emergency Escape Plans
Preparedness is key. That’s why the Denver Fire Department wants every household to create an emergency escape plan. When a home fire strikes, you could have as few as two minutes to escape. Coming up with and practicing an escape plan could save your family’s lives.
Have kids? Take their ages into consideration as you make the plan and update the plan as they grow older. Ideally, you want two escape routes from every room in case one is blocked by smoke or flames. Place rope ladders in rooms situated on floor two or higher so that the window is always an option. Show your kids how to use them. Make sure everyone knows that once they exit the home, they don’t go back in. Trained firefighters can rescue family members or pets that get trapped inside.
Other Community Safety Resources
Neighborhood Watch Groups
The Denver Police Department supports Neighborhood Watch groups. Neighbors concerned with their neighborhood’s safety can gather together to problem solve, patrol the streets, and clean up the neighborhood. You can start your own group or join an existing one. Contact your local station or talk to your neighbors to see if a group already exists.
To start a new group, reach out to your district’s Community Resource Officer. He or she will help you determine the geographical area for your group. Some groups are larger than others; it really depends on how well neighbors can see each other’s homes. You’ll need to reach out to neighbors to set up your first meeting. The goal is to have a representative from every household present.
At your first meeting, the Community Resource Officer will offer crime prevention tips and teach you about crime prevention techniques. Neighbors can express their concerns and formulate a plan for future activities including patrol nights, park clean ups, or casual get-togethers.
PUPS on PATROL
Do you have a dog? Does he or she love going for walks? Turn their walk time into your neighborhood patrol time. The PUPS on PATROL (also called Dog Walker Watch) encourages residents to keep an eye out for suspicious activity while taking their dog for a walk.
To join, you need to attend a one-hour class hosted by the Denver Police Department. You’ll learn about what to look out for and whether the situation calls for 9-1-1 or the non-emergency line. At the end of training, you’ll receive a certificate signed by the Police Chief and an Honorary Denver Police K-9 neckerchief for your dog. Make note that the training is for humans only.
If you’re a dog owner, keep that in mind as you choose a home security system. Frontpoint sells a pet-friendly equipment bundle and their motion detectors use infrared sensors that don’t detect pets if they weigh less than 40 pounds. Pets can trigger false alarms, so choosing a system like this could save you some money.
Property Inventory Record
If asked, could you list all of your home’s valuables off the top of your head? Odds are that you can’t, and if you could, you wouldn’t be able to give a detailed description of them. The City of Denver encourages residents to fill out a Valuable Property Inventory Record. Fill out the sheet with an item description, make, model, serial number, purchase date, and cost of every valuable item you own. Attach photos and receipts when possible. These details help police track down stolen goods. They’ll help you out too if you ever need to file an insurance claim.