Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home. Depending on the NYC neighborhood that you live in, that dream might seem impossible. But, there is a simple solution. Home security systems make your home safer and offer peace of mind. Even in neighborhoods like the Bronx and Brooklyn North, you can feel safe in your own home.
Do I Really Need A Home Security System in New York City?
Before diving into our top three picks for home security systems in New York City, we’ll explore some of the reasons why you may consider installing a system in the first place. Your definition of safety may differ from your neighbor’s, but, as NYC residents, you both share some commonalities that could influence your choice of security system.
New York City Crime Statistics
As with any big city, New York is no stranger to crime. This is thanks to a number of factors like the large number of tourists, wide economic and cultural diversity, and a dense population. Some areas of New York City are more crime ridden than others with a lot of crime centralizing in the Bronx, Manhattan South, and Brooklyn North.
To see where your neighborhood stacks up, visit the New York Police Department (NYPD) website. The NYPD hosts an interactive crime map called CompStat 2.0 to track local crime. The map displays location-based data about rape, burglary, murder, auto theft, grand larceny, and robbery throughout New York City’s 8 main areas and 77 precincts.
You’ll come to find that overall, crime rates in New York City have been on the decline since 1996. This is great news, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Unfortunately, yearly, more than 2,700 crimes occur inside someone’s home during the day and more than 2,000 occur inside someone’s home during the night. This is where home security comes in. Installing some sort of home security system can help prevent you and your family from becoming a target.
Year-Round Weather Concerns
Home security companies do more than protect you and your family from crime. Many, like Vivint, sell weather sensors to detect flooding and water leaks. If you live in Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, or Brooklyn, investing in a weather sensor may be worth considering. Historically, these areas tend to flood. Knowing about the flooding as soon as it happens could be the difference between saving your precious family photos and letting them get destroyed in floodwaters. Go to the NYC Flood Maps website to see what risk zone your home is in.
Hurricanes are another cause for worry in New York City. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 left 750,000 residents without power and those on Staten Island went without power for the longest. The storm was so bad that the mayor issued a mandatory evacuation order for anyone living in Hurricane Evacuation Zone A. During this time, landlines and internet lines were down and criminals took advantage. Thieves looted the houses of those who evacuated. A home security system can keep your belongings secure even if another hurricane strikes and your home loses power. Wireless systems from ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint rely on cell towers, not landlines or the internet. Plus, their control panels have back-up batteries, so even in a hurricane, your home security system still has you covered.
Along with a history of heavy rains and damaging storms, New York City has a variable climate. Temperatures regularly drop to 10°F in January, which can lead to frozen pipes in homes without proper heating. In the summer, temperatures sit in the mid-70s but can go as high as 100°F. If you leave pets home during the day or travel over the winter holidays, having a temperature sensor or smart thermostat is invaluable. Vivint, ADT, and Frontpoint all offer smart thermostats that notify you if your home’s temperature goes outside of the limits you set. Using their respective apps, you can adjust the thermostat remotely from your phone to keep everything in check.
Home-Sharing and the Tourism Industry
People come from all over the world to visit the United States’ largest city. Many tourists stay in hotels, but some look for room- or home-sharing arrangements. Airbnb listings alone account for upwards of 35,000 home sharing properties in NYC. You can find home-sharing arrangements in all of New York’s boroughs, but the majority of sites are located in Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you rent/share your house, apartment, or room with strangers, or live near someone who does, you should really consider investing in a home security system.
Installing a system like Vivint can make home-sharing feel more comfortable too. Instead of sharing keys with a stranger, you can give them a unique access code to your Kwikset Smart Lock. Deactivate the code as soon as their stay ends and then make a new one for your next set of guests. This prevents anyone from copying your keys and returning later.
Choosing the Right Home Security System in New York City
Consider the factors above and your own personal reservations as you decide what home security system to install. Still not sure? You can have an NYPD crime prevention officer come to your home and conduct a free security survey. They’ll evaluate your locks, doors, lighting, windows, alarm system, and landscaping, make note of security vulnerabilities, and make recommendations. This information can help you decide on the best system for your home. Find your precinct online and give them a call to set-up your survey day.
Below, we’ll break down our top three picks for New York: ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint. Read through to see if one is right for you.
Frontpoint takes the cake for New York home security. Frontpoint’s DIY installation and easy-to-use equipment fits right into the busy New York lifestyle. You can order the equipment online and install it in just 30 minutes. Have questions along the way? There’s nothing to worry about because Frontpoint is known for its customer service and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
With Frontpoint, you can choose a preexisting package, build your own security solution, or get a personalized recommendation online. Plus, since GE manufactures the equipment, you can take your equipment with you if you decide to go with a different monitoring service. For reference, their cheapest preexisting package costs around $130 with monitoring services. It includes the following basic equipment:
- Frontpoint hub
- Frontpoint keypad
- 2 Door/window sensors
- 1 Motion sensor
- 1 Yard sign
- 5 Window decals
- 1 Door sticker
Additional equipment options include a doorbell camera, glass break sensors, smoke and heat sensors, indoor/outdoor cameras, flood sensors, smart lightbulbs, wireless light controls, garage door controllers, a panic pendant, and a keychain remote. Live in the Bronx or Brooklyn South? You’re at a much higher risk for auto theft. Adding Frontpoint’s outdoor camera can help reduce the risk.
If you choose a Frontpoint monitoring contract, you’ll need to sign on for one or three years. Frontpoint offers three monitoring plans with the upper two offering home automation support. Pricing is competitive, so only homeowners with the best credit scores get top rates. However, since installation requires no drilling or wiring, Frontpoint is still a convenient choice for the millions of NYC residents that rent. Monitoring includes 24/7/365 coverage from Frontpoint’s Rapid Response Monitoring Services’ state-of-the-art facility in Syracuse, New York. All of your files are encrypted and backed up in case of a blackout too.
Speaking of blackouts, Frontpoint is also an excellent choice for any New Yorker who lives along the East River or in Hurricane Evacuation Zone 1. Frontpoint’s control panel has a long-lasting back-up battery and uses cell radio to send alerts. It even alerts you if the power goes out for more than 15 minutes and then alerts you again when power returns. During Hurricane Sandy, this feature came in handy for city residents that evacuated. Their Frontpoint system notified them that power was back on, so they knew they could return home.
The Bottom Line: Frontpoint is our top choice for New York. Not only is the equipment top-notch, but the perks are unbeatable. Along with DIY installation, Frontpoint offers a price lock guarantee, limited lifetime equipment warranty, and a 30-day risk-free trial.
ADT, the largest national home security provider in the US and Canada, offers something no security competitor can: nation-wide brand recognition. After talks with more than 400 convicted criminals, a UNC Charlotte research team found that having a recognized home security logo or cameras on your property could deter up to 60% of burglars. If you go with ADT, just placing the ADT sticker on your door and window will help keep you secure.
ADT gives homeowners and renters three package options with the opportunity for add-ons. These include Essentials, Total Protection, and Premium Protection. Packages start at $27.99/month and go up to $52.99 per month depending on whether or not you add in home automation, video surveillance, or other equipment. Monitoring-only plans start at $20 per month.
ADT Security packages include the following basic equipment:
- 1 Digital keypad
- 1 Keychain remote
- 3 door/window sensors
- 1 Infrared motion sensor
- 1 High-decibel siren
- 1 Backup battery
- 1 Yard sign
- Window decals
If you live in a crime-dense area like the Bronx or Brooklyn North, consider the Premium Protection ADT Pulse Monitoring plus Video package. Although pricey, it includes video surveillance, which will enhance your safety in New York’s most burglary-prone neighborhoods. This plan comes with other perks too like complete control over your home’s alarm system and cameras through the ADT phone app.
If you live in an area that’s prone to outages, you’ll want to choose either the Total Protection or Premium Protection plan. Their cheapest option, Essentials, only runs on landlines, which means no home security if the phone line goes out.
The Bottom Line: ADT’s brand recognition can’t be beat. Not to mention their stellar reputation for customer service and their convenient New York City offices. Local installers will know your area, so you can trust that their recommendations are specific to your neighborhood.
At the forefront of home automation and home security, you’ll find Vivint. This smart home security company offers innovative solutions designed to save you time, cut back your electricity bills, and keep your home safer. All packages include a Vivint Smart Hub panel, the Vivint app, a smoke detector, a door/window sensor, a motion detector, a key fob for arming/disarming the system, and 24×7 monitoring services.
The basic equipment isn’t what makes Vivint unique. Their home automation equipment sets them apart. Optional equipment includes:
- Recessed door sensors
- Glass break detectors
- Flood/freeze sensors
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Tilt sensors
- Small appliance controls
- Doorbell cameras
- Smart thermostats
- Smart locks
- Panic pendants
With Vivint’s Total Home package, you can regulate your home’s thermostat, monitor the doorbell camera, turn lights on and off, and disarm or arm your security system from anywhere. Simply speak into your Amazon Echo, use the cellular- and Wi-Fi-enabled Vivint Smart Hub panel, or use the Vivint mobile app. Home automation will free up your time and make day-to-day city life less stressful. Plus, Vivint offers convenient, professional installation. Unfortunately, these perks come at a high monthly cost.
Vivint’s cheapest option starts at $39.99 per month and that’s just for monitoring. Unfortunately, crime rates in NYC tend to correlate to a neighborhood’s wealth. People who need home security the most, like those living in South Bronx, likely won’t have the funds to afford Vivint’s monthly rates. This puts Vivint’s innovative services out of reach for some of New York’s most dangerous areas. Its higher tier services are better suited for safer and wealthier neighborhoods like Malba and Forrest Hills of Queens.
The Bottom Line: Vivint is a great home security option for anyone favoring home automation or for anyone who home-shares. Unfortunately, its higher price point and notoriously poor customer service are enough cause for its third place ranking.
Are There Any Other Options?
There are many more home security companies out there. Depending on your needs, going local might be the right move for you. Local New York City security companies understand your neighborhood and problems specific to your area. Below are some of the top-rated local security companies in the Big Apple.
Backbone of New City Home Security Systems
Your home security system can scare off intruders and give you an extra set of eyes when you’re away from home. Companies like ADT and Frontpoint even have guard dispatch services that will go check on your home. But, for the most part, your security system relies on local law enforcement to take action.
In New York City, the Fire Department New York (FDNY) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) work together to handle criminal, medical, and non-medical emergencies. Both forces, well known thanks to features in several popular TV shows and movies, have lots of experience and resources. This is great news should you ever need a response.
New York City Police Department
If your security alarm ever goes off, “New York’s Finest” won’t let you down. As of 2018, their current numbers exceed 38,400 officers spread over 77 precincts, 12 transit districts, and 9 housing police service areas. These officers collectively operate roughly 9,500 patrol cars, 11 police boats, 8 helicopters, and 45 horses. Specialty services include the harbor patrol, air support, bomb squad, counter-terrorism, anti-gang, anti-organized crime, narcotics, public housing, public transportation, K9, and the Emergency Service Unit.
The NYPD also likes to keep up with modern technology. In 2016, they gave out specialty smart phones to all officers. Thanks to a specialized 911 app, these phones can receive call information directly from a 911 call center instead of waiting for a dispatch to go out. What this means for you is a faster response time. This initiative has helped the NYPD to respond about a minute faster than years prior.
Fire Department New York City (FDNY)
Working alongside the NYPD are the FDNY and FDNY EMS. They respond to structural fires and medical emergencies. Even with New York’s crowded streets, these teams have fast response times. Ambulance response times for life-threatening medical emergencies average out to less than seven minutes from the time the call is placed. FDNY response times average less than five minutes for structural fires and medical emergencies. These statistics are impressive, especially when you consider the 2.28 million calls they receive each year and NYC traffic.
Here are some quick facts about the FNDY’s vast resources:
- 255 fire stations throughout the NYC area
- 198 fire engines
- 143 fire trucks
- 8 rescue squads
- 5 heavy rescue vehicles
- 450 ambulances
- 1 Hazmat apparatus
- 9 fireboats
- 10 wildland fire engines
- 1 urban search and rescue team
Along with providing direct services, the FDNY have multi-lingual fire safety publications and activities on their website. Read through their tips and preparedness materials to ensure your household is safe and ready in case of a fire. Vivint, Frontpoint, and ADT all offer integrated smoke alarms for more reliable in-home fire detection.
Other New York City Safety Resources
Not only do the NYPD and FDNY do their part to help residents stay safe and secure, but the city of New York offers valuable resources too. They’re all free to the public.
Crime Prevention and Safety Website
Get safety information from the NYPD’s Crime Prevention and Safety Tips website. There, you’ll find locally relevant resources about child safety, domestic violence, identity theft, home security, personal safety, and more. The site also includes Safeguard Your House and Safeguard Your Apartment flyers, offering tips like “secure air conditioners to the window opening to prevent them being pulled out or pushed in” and “do not assume that the basement windows are too small for [burglar] entry.”
Block Watcher Program
Many communities organize neighborhood watch groups. New York City has a Block Watcher program instead. Civic-minded individuals can volunteer to monitor their blocks for criminal activities or “incidents that erode the quality of life.” Join this group and you’ll receive specialized training and a unique ID number to use so that you can make anonymous yet credible reports when calling 911 or 311. Even if you don’t join, it’s still nice to know that others out there are looking out for your home.
Don’t let the busyness of city life distract you from what matters–your family’s safety. Sign up online for the Notify NYC emergency alert system, a combined effort of the New York City Emergency Management and Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. This text alert system sends messages alerting you of traffic delays, impending storms, local fires, emergency response drills, and more. It’s a great way to stay prepared and informed.
To sign up, you need an NYC Identity Management account or a social media account like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Gmail. During sign-up, you’ll choose what alerts you want to receive, but everyone who signs up automatically receives life-threatening emergency alerts. Optional alerts include significant event notifications like utility outages, public health notifications, public school closing/delay advisories, unscheduled parking rules suspensions, major mass transit disruptions, major traffic disruptions, waterbody advisories, and beach notifications.
Know Your Zone
Hurricanes can happen and have happened in New York City. The city wants you to be as prepared as possible in case another storm strikes. Visit the Know Your Zone website to learn everything there is to know about NYC hurricane preparedness. Use the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder to see if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. If you do, take it under consideration as you decide what type of home security features you want.