More than 730,400 people call Seattle their home. Millions more visit the city and surrounding area each year to experience its diverse culture and beautiful scenery. Given the number of people that occupy the city, it’s not surprising to learn that Seattle struggles with crime. Thankfully, keeping your family protected in Seattle is as simple as installing a home security system.
- Known for: Being backed by more than 140 years of experience and millions of satisfied customers
- Basic Package: Control panel, base system, one motion sensor, wireless sensors, wireless remote, back-up battery, yard sign, and window decals
- Cost: $27.99-$58.99 per month with equipment; $19.99 per month without equipment
- Wireless or Wired: Both
- Installation: Professional installation starting at $99 for activation
- Home Automation: Yes, with upper-tier packages
- Ideal Customer: Low-budget homeowners or renters who need basic equipment; High-budget homeowner who wants home automation
- Known for: Offering high-end security packages that seamlessly integrate home security and home automation.
- Basic Package: 6 smart sensors, 1 touch screen panel, and 2 Google Home Minis
- Cost: $39.99 to $49.99 per month plus equipment ($700+)
- Wireless or Wired: Wireless only
- Installation: Professional installation from $49.99 to $199.99
- Home Automation: Yes, with all packages
- Ideal Customer: High-budget tech enthusiast looking to automate their home and keep their family safe
- Known for: Stellar customer service and affordable, renter-friendly home automation equipment
- Basic Package: 1 hub, 1 keypad panel, 2 door/window sensors, and 1 motion sensor
- Cost: $34.99-$49.99 per month plus equipment ($100+)
- Wireless or Wired: Wireless only
- Installation: 100% DIY installation that takes 30 minutes or less; No tools required
- Home Automation: Yes
- Ideal Customer: Renters or homeowners who value customer service and have a mid-to-high budget
We think ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint have the features and innovation needed to keep Seattle families safe. Read on below to see how they stack up when it comes to pets, the weather, tourism, crime, and more.
Rainy Seattle Weather
Seattle may be The Rainy City, but total rainfall is only 37 inches per year. Rain in Seattle falls steadily except in the winter months of November, December, and January, where heavier rain is common. If you live along the creek or a city street, you might experience flooding. Leaves clog street drains, causing back ups on especially rainy days and creeks overflow, especially in November. Along with following the city’s Tips to Reduce Flooding, you should consider adding a flood sensor to your home.
Flood sensors don’t prevent water from entering your home, they just alert you as soon as moisture is detected. The timely alert gives you time to remedy the situation before any major damage occurs. All three of our top picks for Seattle sell battery-powered flood or water sensors. They link to the company’s respective app, so you’re always in the know. Frontpoint’s flood sensors cost just $44.99 and offer three to five times more range than ADT’s and Vivint’s. The batteries last for 8-10 years too, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
Seattle is Full of Pets
Seattle is home to more dogs than it is kids. It’s a longtime trend that started as far back as 1997. People just love pets in Seattle. Looking at all Seattle households, 29.5% own cats, 25.2% own dogs, and only 19.7% have kids. Did you know that home security can actually make owning a pet more convenient?
Vivint’s smart keypad lock and doorbell camera makes it easier than ever to let someone inside to take care of your dog. Dog owners who frequently use services like Wag or other dog-walking apps especially benefit. Vivint’s doorbell camera provides a 180° view of the front of your home. It’s motion activated, sending you an alert when someone rings the doorbell or enters the area. Plus, it gives you two-way communication with the dog walker on your porch. You can verify who they are and then unlock the door and disarm the alarm system right from the Vivint app.
As soon as they leave the house with your dog, rearm your system and await their return. Already have a trustworthy dog walker or sitter? Assign them a code to use to access the front door. You’ll get notified on your mobile device when that code is entered, so you’ll know if they enter your home when they shouldn’t. Since no keys exchange hands, you have more control over your front door. Plus, you can change or remove the access code at any time.
When it comes to indoor security equipment, ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint all sell pet-friendly motion detectors. Their detectors use infrared technology, so its harder for a dog or cat to trip the sensor. Vivint’s sensors are immune to pets weighing up to 33 to 55 pounds. Frontpoint’s detectors are immune to pets weighing up to 40 pounds. With ADT, the professional installer can customize the sensitivity level based on your pet’s size.
If you have especially large pets, motion detectors might not be worth the hassle. Your alarm company could end up owing a lot of false alarm fees, which they could then pass on to you. Forgo motion detectors and add in extra window and glass break sensors to make up for it. Frontpoint’s pet-friendly Safe Home Plus package includes extra glass break sensors and leaves out motion detectors for that reason.
Seattle’s Tourism Industry
Tourists flood to Seattle each year to experience the great outdoors, visit Pikes Place, and ride up the Space Needle. Visitors might choose to stay in one of Downtown Seattle’s hotels, or they might stay with you or your neighbor. The home-sharing industry has picked up traction in Seattle. On Airbnb, you can find more than 8,700 available rooms, homes, condos, or apartments to rent in Seattle and the surrounding area.
If you’re making money on the side by welcoming in tourists, a home security system adds an extra layer of safety. It’ll give your listing an edge too. You can offer guests conveniences like smart lights, a smart home thermostat, and a keycode for entering your home if you go with a smart keypad lock from Vivint. They won’t have to worry about keeping track of key and you won’t have to worry about them copying a key to return later.
Security cameras* can also make your rental property safer, something guests will appreciate. But only if those cameras are on the outside. Indoor cameras make guests feel uncomfortable. Outdoor cameras help scare off potential criminals, adding a noticeable level of safety to your listing. In fact, interviews with convicted burglars found that 60% would choose a different target if the first had visible signs of home security.
Frontpoint’s outdoor cameras are the most affordable in terms of both equipment cost and monthly monitoring fees. They use infrared night vision, have adjustable settings, and live stream to the Frontpoint app. To get the most out of the camera, place it where it’s most visible. Its wireless installation gives you a lot of flexibility.
*If your rental property has any type of camera, you’ll need to disclose this to guests.
How Safe is Seattle?
Looking at overall Seattle crime rates gives you a broad look at the city’s crime scene. Seattle has a crime index of 3, meaning it’s 3% safer than all U.S. cities. Here, you have a 1 in 158 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime and a 1 in 18 chance of becoming a victim to a property crime. Property crime rates for theft, burglary, and auto theft in Seattle all more than double the national median. In this city, your property needs protection. But, how much? To answer that, you’ll need to look at crime in your neighborhood.
Neighborhood Crime Rates
In any city, crime rates only tell one part of the picture. They don’t tell you which neighborhoods are safer than others. They don’t indicate what types of crimes occur more often in some places than in others. In fact, from 1997 to 2011 half of all reported crimes in Seattle took place on fewer than 5% of street blocks. Just looking at a generic crime rate doesn’t tell you that. It’s on you to look deeper.
You need to research where you live to see what’s happening near your home. Are you part of that 5% where most crimes occur, or do you live somewhere like Lake City that’s safe? Knowing this information will help you choose the best system for your home. Thankfully, the Seattle PD has the right tool for the job.
Visit their SPD Records Map. Type in your address and sort by crime type and date. The interactive records map shows you what types of crimes have occurred near your home within the past 7 days. You can see a time stamp and even read the police report online. To view older activity, use the city’s Crime Data page. You can download the data directly to weed through it or create graphs and charts right on the website.
In Seattle, some of the more dangerous neighborhoods include South Park, Rainier Beach, Othello, Beacon Hill, and Yesler. Crimes like auto theft and residential burglary occur more often in these areas than in others. Your home needs protection if you live here. Outdoor video cameras, logo stickers, and burglar alarms will help scare away potential burglars. Can’t afford a full home security package? No problem. You can bring your own equipment and use it with ADT’s $19.99 per month monitoring-only plan.
Safer Seattle neighborhoods include Bryn Mawr, Lake City, and Skyway. There’s a much lower crime rate in these neighborhoods. If you want home security here, a basic system will likely do. With ADT, Frontpoint, and Vivint, you can start out with basic equipment and add on more as you see fit. Have a high budget? Vivint’s a great option. Even their most basic packages include smart home technology. This company will make your home as safe as you want it to be and will make life a whole lot more convenient.
How Does Seattle Respond to Home Security Systems?
Seattle understands your need for a home security system. Emergency responders do their best to promptly respond to your calls and the city does its best to keep alarm companies in check.
False Alarm Program
No matter how well they’re installed or how elite they are, home security systems can cause false alarms. A false alarm occurs when your alarm activates, and police respond only to realize that there was no emergency. Prior to 2004, the Seattle Police Department responded to more than 25,000 burglar alarm calls each year. That many people weren’t in danger—97% of the calls were just false alarms.
In 2004, Seattle created their false alarm program. Now, the SPD responds to less than 11,000 false alarm calls per year. That’s still a lot, but it’s much better than in the past. Unfortunately, false alarms still cost the city more than one million dollars each year. They also distract police officers from responding to real emergencies.
To recoup costs and hold alarm companies accountable for false alarms, Seattle works directly with your alarm company instead of with you. Your alarm company must be licensed*, pay any registration or false alarm fees, and provide physical evidence like camera footage or a broken window to warrant police response.
*ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint are all licensed
Seattle False Alarm Fees
Fees range depending on the alarm type and how quickly your alarm company tries to call off the false alarm. Fees as of 2019 are below:
|Type of Alarm||Fee|
|Canceled After Dispatch, Prior to Arrival||$30|
|Canceled Before Dispatch||$0|
False Alarm Response
Seattle police don’t prioritize alarm calls. Often, responding just leads to wasted resources, so these calls have a low-priority status. Response isn’t even guaranteed. Robbery/panic/duress alarms are an exception. The SPD recommends that alarm users use private security guard services dispatch instead of relying on police. You’ll get a faster response to your alarm and the police won’t waste time dispatching a likely false alarm call.
ADT offers Alarm Patrol Services for an additional monthly fee and two-year contract. They’ll dispatch someone to your home when your alarm goes off. The uniformed ADT patrol officer can verify whether a police presence is needed. The service is comforting, especially if you own a vacation home in Seattle or are away from home when the alarm goes off.
Since Seattle’s false alarm fees are so high for alarm companies, Frontpoint also offers verified response services. This isn’t the norm for Frontpoint, as they only offer this service in select cities. In Seattle, they’ll send a contract security guard to your home if desired. You only have to pay if you dispatch a guard. Prices vary.
Seattle Police Department
If your alarm goes off (for real), the Seattle Police Department is there. The dedicated force consists of 1,300 officers serving across five precincts. Each precinct offers bike patrol, Anti-Crime Teams, Community Police Teams, Crime Prevention, and Burglary/Theft investigation services. Should you fall victim to a property crime, know that your precinct has specially trained investigative officers at the ready.
Police Response Times
As is the case with a lot of major cities, the Seattle Police Department isn’t growing fast enough to keep up with Seattle’s population. This means that police have to work even harder to prevent, solve, and respond to crimes. The department aims to respond to all priority one 911 calls in 7 minutes no matter where the call comes from. Priority one calls include residential burglary, gunshots reported, drug overdose, suicidal person, domestic violence, and missing child.
For three out of five calls, police achieve this goal. Burglaries evoke the fastest police responses. Data from 2009 to 2014 shows that police responded in seven minutes or less to residential burglaries 78.2% of the time. However, if you live in Northwest Seattle, Georgetown, Magnolia, or West Seattle, response times tend to be on the slower side.
Micro Community Policing Plans
Through analyzing extensive surveys, police input, and crime data, the SPD divided Seattle into micro communities and started developing Micro Community Policing Plans (MCCP). The overall goal is to address crime and implement crime prevention strategies that are tailored to each neighborhood. For example, residential burglaries are a big issue in Eastlake East, but in Genesee, public drinking at the community center and at bus stops is bigger problem. Micro Community Policing Plans make officers aware of the different needs and problems in each neighborhood. See what MCPP neighborhood you live in.
When neighbors work together, it’s easier to prevent crime. Seattle’s Block Watch program creates formal neighborhood groups that agree to watch out for one another. Before starting Block Watch, neighbors need to commit to being concerned about their neighbors and their belongings. They also need to commit to reporting suspicious activity to the police and to one another.
The next step is making things official with a Crime Prevention Coordinator (CPC) from your local precinct. You’ll set up a time and place to host your first Block Watch meeting. At the meeting, the CPC will talk about local crime, crime trends, and ways neighbors can make a difference. He or she will also collect contact information for each participant.
Live in an apartment or condo? There’s a Block Watch program for you too.
Living Room Conversations
Getting to know your police officers builds trust. That’s the thought behind the SPD’s Living Room Conversations initiative. The SPD’s Community Outreach team wants residents and businesses to host casual get-to-know-you type events where police and 10 to 20 community members come together. The host sends out the invites, so you wouldn’t be inviting strangers into your home. This is a great way to show appreciation for your police department, and you could snag some home security advice too.
Seattle Fire Department
The Seattle Fire Department comes on the scene if your smoke detectors or CO detectors go off and you or your alarm company call it in. More than 990 uniformed firefighters and EMS personnel work for the SFD. They work out of 33 fire stations and operate 32 fire engines, 11 fire trucks, 7 ALS ambulances, 7 BLS ambulances, 1 HAZMAT unit, 2 rescue squads, 2 heavy rescue vehicles, 1 wildland fire truck, 4 fire boats, 2 rescue boats, and 3 light and air units.
Fire & EMS Response
Like the police department, the Seattle Fire Department is not expanding fast enough to keep up with Seattle’s rising population. As the number of fire calls increase each year, it becomes even harder for firefighters and EMS to meet response time targets. The SFD aims to arrive within four minutes to 90% of all EMS incidents and fire suppression incidents. The clock starts as soon as the engine leaves the station and ends as soon as they get on scene.
Response data from 2017 shows that the SFD’s response stats are slowing down. The department responded within four minutes to just 77% of fire suppression calls and to 79% of EMS incidents. These numbers are down from 84% for fire suppression and 84% for EMS incidents back in 2016. The department’s main goal right now is allocating funding appropriately to help boost these response times.
In cases of fire or medical emergencies, every second counts. You can help make up for lagging response times. The sooner you know a fire has started, the sooner help can arrive. Frontpoint’s smoke and heat sensor detects smoke fast, minimizing the potential damage and safety threat. If activated, it sends out an alert to your phone and the monitoring center. Firefighters are then dispatched if necessary. The sensor costs just $64.99 and has a ten-year battery life.