Whether you want home automation, safety from theft, and/or environmental protections, a home security system can get it done. For the San Antonio market, we recommend Frontpoint, Vivint, and ADT. Their wide range of services, equipment, and price points give San Antonio residents a good variety to choose from. We’ll start out with a brief overview of each company and then dive into which one works best depending on your situation.
- What they’re known for: Unmatched high-end home automation and security equipment
- Price Range: $39.99 to $49.99 per month plus equipment ($700+)
- Who they’re great for: Anyone looking to combine home security with home automation who has a high budget; Anyone participating in home sharing
- Who they’re not so great for: Renters or anyone looking for just a basic security system
- What every package includes: 6 smart sensors, 1 touch screen panel, 2 Google Home Minis
- Add-on item examples: Doorbell camera, key-ring compatible remote control, smart thermostat, smart locks, security cameras, smart sensors
- Wireless?: Yes
- What they’re known for: Unparalleled brand recognition backed by 140 years of experience and satisfied customers
- Price range: $27.99-$58.99 per month with equipment
- Who they’re great for: Anyone with a lower budget who’s seeking basic equipment
- Who they’re not so great for: Renters or anyone that doesn’t want holes in their walls; Anyone who doesn’t want to pay for professional installation
- What every package includes: Control panel, base system, 1 motion sensor, wireless sensors, wireless remote, back-up battery, yard sign, window decals
- Add-on item examples: Environmental sensors, carbon monoxide/smoke detectors, entry sensors, video cameras, keychain remote controls, smart locks
- Wireless?: Hardwired and wireless options
- What they’re known for: Exceptional brand recognition and affordable home automation equipment
- Price range: $34.99-$49.99 per month plus equipment ($100+)
- Who they’re great for: Anyone with a mid-to-high budget who values customer service; Renters
- Who they’re not so great for: Anyone who wants a professional assessing their home and offering in-person instructions
- What every packages includes: 1 hub, 1 keypad panel, 2 door/window sensors, 1 motion sensor
- Add-on item examples: Glass break sensors, smoke/heat sensors, flood sensors, garage door sensors, indoor/outdoor cameras, doorbell camera, smart locks
- Wireless?: Yes
Reasons for Home Security in San Antonio
Home security systems serve multiple purposes. So, we think everyone can benefit from having one. It’ll help you sleep better at night and make life a little easier. In a large city like San Antonio, home security systems definitely come in handy, especially when it comes to the following factors.
Crime Trends in San Antonio
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that San Antonio has a high crime rate. Per 100,000 residents, the number of annual crimes in San Antonio is a little more than double the national rate. You see the doubled crime rate across nearly every crime type. Looking just at property crime (burglary, larceny, and vehicle theft), your chance of victimhood is 1 in 20. For violent crime (homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), it’s 1 in 140. Not all property crime affects your home, but crimes like burglary and auto theft tend to.
Fortunately, recent police efforts have resulted in a sustained decrease in crime, so things are getting better in San Antonio. Arrest numbers are up too, which means fewer criminals have the chance to commit multiple crimes. And, despite the city’s high crime rates, San Antonio is actually one of the safest large cities in the United States.
Learn about crime trends in your area by visiting Community Crime Map. Here, you can view crime data based on location, data range, and crime type. You might think that crime doesn’t happen in your neighborhood, but the data here just might surprise you. This tool will give you a taste of how relevant San Antonio’s citywide crime stats are for your area.
All large cities experience crime, but some neighborhoods are more crime-dense than others. The neighborhood at the intersection of South Frio Street and San Fernando Street even made Neighborhood Scout’s list of top 25 most dangerous areas in the US. Live here and your chance at becoming a victim to violent crime is about 1 in 17. That’s eight times the average San Antonio rate. Other high crime areas include Westwood Village, Southeast side, Palm Heights, Thompson Community, and Government Hill.
A security system can help protect you from theft, robbery, and other violent or property crimes. Frontpoint is a great choice for San Antonio’s most dangerous neighborhoods. They offer overnight shipping, easy DIY installation, and reasonably priced equipment. Plus, their add-on outdoor security cameras won’t damage your home’s exterior.
Crash & Smash Break-Ins
Security systems give you a lot of customization options. One option is alarm delay. The delay is a window of time from when you enter the home until the alarm sounds. In other words, it gives you time to get in the door and enter the code to disarm. For a criminal, it gives them 10, 20, or maybe 30 seconds to get inside and smash you alarm system. These crash and smash break-ins happen in San Antonio.
Fortunately, many alarm companies have systems in place to stop this type of break-in. Unfortunately, most protections only come with upper-tier equipment and monitoring plans. Frontpoint’s two upper-level packages (Interactive Plan and Ultimate Plan) include a Crash and Smash control panel. With those plans, Frontpoint receives a signal every time a door or window is opened. If they don’t receive an alarm deactivation signal–as would be in the case of a burglar smashing it–they’ll notify you and the police. While this can trigger false alarms, it also helps guarantee your home’s safety. Vivint’s wireless technology acts similarly.
ADT Security has varying success with crash and smash situations. Their lower-tier, landline-based plans come with hardwired control panels. Intruders can cut the wire and smash the system before ADT even knows something went wrong. However, their three upper-tier plans use cell towers, so you and ADT would be notified immediately should anyone try to disable your system.
Home security companies do more than just keep out intruders. They also help you deal with nuisances like high electric bills or frozen pipes. While ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint all offer smart thermostats, Vivint’s can’t be beat. Their integrated smart thermostat and comprehensive VivintSky App gives you control no matter where you are. Out for a run? On your way home, you can use the app to turn up your AC. Leave your pet home on a hot day? Monitor your home’s temperature remotely to make sure your pet is safe, especially on those 90°F-plus days in July and August. Putting your home’s thermostat on a schedule and being able to turn off the AC or heat when you mistakenly left it on will also help you lower your electric bill.
Although San Antonio has a subtropical humid climate, subfreezing nights can sneak up on you. Your home may not have the same pipe insulation as homes in colder climates. Place freezer sensors near pipes in your basement or garage. When temperatures approach freezing, you’ll receive a notification, so you can remedy the problem before things go south. Vivint and ADT offer freezer sensors in all of their equipment packages, but for Frontpoint, they’re an add-on item.
What Other Home Security Options are there in San Antonio?
We stand behind Vivint, Frontpoint, and ADT, but they might not be right for your home. That’s okay. In San Antonio, you have several solid local options* with good reviews. Visit their websites to learn more and then compare your findings to our top three picks.
While local companies know your neighborhood, their contracts might make it difficult if you move out of the area. Vivint, Frontpoint, and ADT have nation-wide coverage and let you move your plan with you. Tend to move a lot? Frontpoint is the most mover-friendly. They’ll send you new adhesive and a moving box to make your move go smoothly. Plus, it’s 100% free. On the other hand, Vivint charges a heft $129 uninstallation and $129 reinstallation fee. Military moves are exempt from these fees.
*ADT has several highly rated authorized providers in San Antonio and Vivint has a highly rated San Antonio store as well.
San Antonio’s False Alarm and Alarm Permits Policy
Unfortunately, burglar alarms can sometimes do more harm than good. In 2015, the San Antonio Police Department reported that 91% of all burglar alarms were false alarms. It ends up being one false alarm every eight minutes. Efforts and resources spent responding to these false alarms would be better used serving the community in other capacities. That’s why the City of San Antonio works directly with alarm companies and alarm users to help minimize false alarms. Their permit system helps make this possible.
The San Antonio Police Departments Alarm Investigations Office (AIO) oversees and enforces alarm permits. You must alert the AIO of a new alarm system within 12 hours of installation. This doesn’t give you much wiggle room, so don’t forget. Call or leave a voice mail at 210-207-8282 and be prepared to give out your name, address, phone number, and contact info for two other people that can be reached if you’re not available. Do all of this and you’ll give yourself a four-day window to get your alarm permit without facing any consequences. If you self-monitor your system, you’re exempt from the permit requirement.
Download the alarm permit form and then send it to the Alarms Permitting Office. Payments are due with your application. Fees are $40 for a residential alarm and $30 for seniors 65+. This fee covers both a fire and police alarm permit. Fail to get a permit? You’ll face a $75 charge for every false burglar alarm and $125 for every false fire alarm. Plus, repeated unpermitted false alarms can rack up additional fees.
Residents with permits also face false alarm fees, but they’re not as hefty. Your first three false burglar alarms are free, the 4th-5th cost $50 each, the 6th-7th cost $75 each, and 8 or more cost $100 each. Robbery/hold up/panic/duress alarms, also called silent alarms, have different fees. The 1st is free, 2nd costs $200, 3rd costs $300, 4th costs $400, and 5th and up cost $500 each. The Fire Department also charges separate false alarm fees. For false fire alarm activation, the first is free, the 2nd-4th cost $125 each, the 5th-10th cost $250 each, and 10+ cost $500 each. Even if you cancel your false fire alarm, you’ll still get charged. The first is free, calls 2-4 cost $50, calls 5-10 cost $125, and 10 or more calls cost $250 each.
How Do Vivint, Frontpoint, and ADT Deal with False Alarms?
Choosing a home security system with safeguards in place to minimize false alarms can help you avoid false alarm fees. Vivint, ADT, and Frontpoint take different measures to protect against false alarms. ADT can dispatch an Alarm Response patrol officer to your home. He or she will respond and then determine if police are needed. While this service costs extra, it’s worth it if it means no false alarm fees or wasted police resources. ADT also has pet-friendly motion sensors, so you don’t have to worry about your large dog or cat triggering your system.
Frontpoint’s GE equipment has been thoroughly tested and proven to reduce false alarms. Their pet-friendly system uses infrared sensors that won’t detect pets weighing less than 40 pounds. This is great if you let your pet roam free while you’re out. Frontpoint’s monitoring center can also visually verify active alarms before contacting police to make sure something warranting police response is actually happening.
Vivint’s Extended Entry Delay feature reduces false alarms that happen because of your forgetfulness. Once you system is armed, you get a two-minute re-entry period. You can re-enter your home to retrieve your keys or lunch without immediately triggering the alarm. Disarm the system within 90 seconds to prevent it from going off.
Emergency Responders and Community Safety Programs in San Antonio
Home security monitoring systems do a lot to keep you safe, but so do San Antonio’s police officers, EMS, and firefighters.
San Antonio Police Department (SAPD)
Through community programs and department divisions, the SAPD does a lot to keep San Antonio residents and homes safe. Their Community Policing efforts encourage officers, citizens, and community organizations to work together toward finding permanent crime prevention solutions. Within Community Policing, the SAPD also does Problem-Oriented Policing (P.O.P). Communities and officers seek out the causes of a problem before determining a response instead of applying one-size-fits-all solutions.
The SAPD SAFFE program sits at the core of their community policing efforts. SAFFE, or San Antonio Fear Free Environment, assigns officers to neighborhoods throughout the city. The officers spend time with citizens and local businesses to get to know the area. Through these connections, SAFFE officers work alongside a neighborhood to help prevent crime. They also work with schools, oversee graffiti removal, and help residents that want to take an active role in fixing up their neighborhoods and preventing crime. Visit the SAFFE website to find community-specific links and SAFFE officer contact information.
Considering the city’s nearly 1.5 million-person population, a relatively small number of police officers work for the SAPD. In the past, the department has faced officer shortages but that hasn’t affected their response times. Emergency response times sit right at or below seven minutes, well below their eight-minute target response time. If you ever have a break-in, the SAPD will get there quickly.
Home Security Surveys
Before you choose your home security system, contact your local police substation to set up a free home security survey. A SAPD Crime Prevention Specialist will come to your house or apartment, evaluating it for security threats. He or she might suggest trimming back hedges around windows, adding inner window locks, or installing a deadbolt on your front door. Tell the officer you’re leaning toward purchasing a home security system to get their thoughts on what equipment would help. These trained officers know your neighborhood and have reliable advice about what’s best for your home.
National Night Out
Who said crime prevention was no fun? One night per year in San Antonio, crime prevention is a celebration. The SPD’s National Night Out event raises awareness about crime and drug prevention by bringing the community together. Think information tables, presentations, fire trucks to explore, food, balloons, and even clowns. This annual event shows criminals that San Antonio police and residents are serious about fighting back against crime.
Citizen On Patrol
Become the “eyes and ears” of the police department by joining the COP program. Citizens patrol their neighborhood with their cell phones handy. See something suspicious while you’re patrolling? You call in emergency services. To join, you must take one four-hour class at your local substation. Upon graduation, you’ll set up COP Patrols with fellow grads in your area. Print out an application form and bring it into your neighborhood substation.
Crime Prevention Tips
The SAPD provides a straightforward list of crime prevention tips on their website. Visit the site to find home, personal, and driving safety tips. Here are just a few of their many home security tips:
- Keep blinds and curtains drawn
- Require ID from repairmen before opening the door to your house or apartment
- Don’t enter your home if you think someone may be inside; instead, run to a neighbor’s and call 911
- Rekey or replace all locks when moving into a new place*
*Replacing old locks with a Vivint keypad smart lock offers your home an added layer of security. Assign family members a code to use when entering the home instead of handing out house keys. The app will notify you about who comes and goes, and there’s no key for anyone to steal.
San Antonio Fire Department and EMS (SAFD)
San Antonio has one of the best fire departments in the nation. In 2018, they received a Class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO). This is the highest rating given out. Their 1,700 uniformed employees and 120 civilian employees worked together to make this possible. SAFD firefighters and EMS operate 53 fire stations, 53 fire engines, 20 ladder trucks, Hazmat equipment, technical rescue equipment, airport crash rescue equipment, and 42 ambulances. Response times vary based on your location, but as of 2017, their average response time was 7 minutes and 54 seconds. They respond faster than the standard response time of eight minutes used by most cities.
Smoke Detector Program
Live in a single family home? Then you can receive free smoke detectors and free installation from the SAFD. You’ll get the added security of a smoke alarm without having to add it on to your home security plan. However, if you want your smoke alarm monitored or smart-home compatible, you’ll still need to purchase one from your home security company.
Fire & Life Safety Information
Visit the SAFD’s Fire & Life Safety Information page to learn valuable fire safety information. They offer fire safety tips relating specifically to senior citizens, pets, candles, apartments, homes, and more. For example, “always keep burning candles within sight” and “use towels or clothing to block openings around doors or vents where smoke might enter.” Share these life-saving tips with your friends, family, and neighborhood.