Best Home Security Systems in 2020
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Customized wireless alarm systems and automation solutions that fit your lifestyle.
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Best Home Security Systems for 2020 in the USA:
- Vivint - Best for Home Automation
- ADT - Best for Trusted Brand
- Simplisafe Home Security System - Best for DIY
- Frontpoint - Best Wireless Option
- Nest - Best Total Integration with Google
- Brinks Home Security - Best Integration with Nest
- Protect America
- Link Interactive
In Depth Home Security System Reviews by Category:
What are the best home security systems?
Just a couple decades ago, the home security industry was dominated by a few big names offering expensive, rigid plans with little flexibility and unfriendly, long-term contracts. Systems were limited to a couple wired motion sensors connected to a keypad control panel and run through a landline. Nowadays, this has all changed.
While some vestiges of the old industry remain, today’s homeowners are presented with a lot more options. Wireless technology and home automation features have beefed up the strength of home security, while granting customers unprecedented control and customizability over their equipment. At the same time, newer companies like SimpliSafe and Scout have introduced new, flexible payment plans that allow you to pay month-to-month, rather than forcing you to commit to a long-term agreement with harsh cancellation penalties.
With so many home security options these days, it can be hard to choose the right one, that’s why we’re presenting this list of 2019’s best rated home security systems to ease the selection process. Along with summaries of the system’s features and pricing options, we talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of each so you can decide which best suits your needs.
Through its twenty-one years in the home security industry, Vivint Smart Home has grown to become one of the top providers in the U.S. and Canada, supplying service to over a million homeowners. Concurrently, the company has also earned a name as a trailblazer with its advanced equipment and home automation features, finding a spot on Fast Company’s World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies list in 2017. Vivint supplies some of the most state-of-the-art systems in the industry, although it’s overall rating is marred by inadequate customer service and lengthy lock-in contracts.
Vivint shines through its proprietary equipment, which stands out in its sleekness and functionality compared to that of its competitors. The system’s operating hub is the Sky Control, a 7-inch color touchscreen device from which you activate and deactivate your system, lock and unlock doors, view video feeds, adjust smart home devices, and much more. Vivint’s other devices such as sensors and outdoor and doorbell cameras are equally high-end and compatible with 3rd party smart home devices. The system uses a cellular connection, which protects against burglar wire cutting, but may be an issue in rural areas where the cellular signal is weak.
However, the quality equipment comes at a cost: you have the choice of buying all the equipment upfront and paying month-to-month for a price of around $2000 or signing a 42-60 month contract (the cheapest of which is $39.99 a month) and leasing the equipment. None of the plans offer a money-back guarantee beyond three days, and the cancellation fee is a full 100%, so customers must be positive they want to go with Vivint or suffer expensive consequences.
✓ No-contract option
✓ Quick event response
✓ Cellular-connected system
✓ Versatile mobile app
✓ Financing option
✓ Video doorbell with two-way voice
✓ Sleek, portable equipment
✓ Door locks, sensors, thermostats all operable with remote control
✗ Long term lock-in contracts
✗ Stiff, 100% cancellation fee
✗ Shabby customer service
✗ Heavy initial equipment costs
✗ Remote access only offered in contract options
✗ Poor customer reviews
A veteran in the industry with 60 years in the home security business, Link Interactive has garnered a great reputation with customers evidenced by its A+ rating on BBB and favorable reviews on sites such as Yelp. The chief positives Link Interactive brings to the table are the wealth of security options offered for different homeowner needs and flexible price points. You can choose which equipment you need and select between three plans of ascending cost. The flexibility extends to the contracts, as well: customers have the option of selecting between 1,2, and 3-year contracts, or having no contract at all. Furthermore, Link Interactive offers a 30-day money back guarantee with no questions asked.
Let’s talk about the equipment: Link Interactive is unique in that it doesn’t force customers to select between pre-set packages (although you can choose one, if you like), instead allowing them to hand pick between fairly-priced individual items through the website. Their equipment comes from reputed manufacturers like 2GIG, Honeywell, and GE, and includes control panels, door and window sensors, automated door locks, environmental sensors, sirens, yard signs and window decals. Basically, anything you’d need to protect your home is available if you’re willing to pay for it.
As mentioned before, plans include the Standard ($30.99 a month, professional monitoring, fire and intrusion alarms, two-way voice to monitoring stations), Gold ($35.99 a month, everything that comes with Standard in addition to home automation features like lights, locks, and a remote control app), and Elite ($40.99, all of the Gold features with added HD video monitoring) plans. Customers get the choice of 12, 24, and 36 month contracts, or a pay-as-you-go option. While you can receive a full refund within 30-days, if you cancel any time after, you must pay 75% of your remaining contractual balance.
Overall, Link Interactive is a great choice for home security compared to some of the bigger names in the industry due to the wide range of equipment options and pricing flexibility. .
✓ Wireless equipment
✓ 30-day trial
✓ Equipment comes with three-year warranty
✓ Simple installation
✓ No installation or activation fees
✓ Home automation
✓ Multiple contract options: 1, 2, or 3 years
✓ Indoor/outdoor cameras coupled with two-way audio
✓ Three-year rate lock
✓ Equipment is yours
✗ No professional installation
✗ Large frontend equipment costs
✗ No landline or broadband option
A Virginia-based company with over ten years in the business, Frontpoint provides high-end home security with a wireless system, DIY installation and professional monitoring. Available plans allow for some customizability and the customer service is accessible and responsive. Additionally, the more expensive plans include pretty great home automation features and video surveillance for those willing and able to pay for it. Yet, Frontpoint has some drawbacks, including its high prices and severe lock-in contracts. Those weighing the options would do best to read over the contract thoroughly before jumping in.
Frontpoint uses General Electric hardware for its security systems, providing customers with a degree of ease in replacing faulty parts. The equipment is quite good as well: compact and easily installed. Unlike other home security providers, Frontpoint’s security systems are entirely cellular, which means that bad actors cannot disable it by cutting phone lines, but may be a drawback if you live in an area with a weak cellular connection. A three-year warranty is included with your equipment, so don’t worry too much if something fails as the company should replace it.
As far as contracts are concerned, Frontpoint offers one and three year plans, but no pay-as-you-go option. The three plans are as follows:
- Basic Protection Plan: $34.99 a month. Includes 24/7 monitoring, fire protection, and environmental protection.
- Interactive Plan: $44.99 a month. Allows you to use the mobile app to remotely control your system and receive text and email alerts.
- Ultimate Plan: $49.99 a month. All of the features of Interactive in addition to live video streaming, cloud storage for old video, and home automation features.
Overall, Frontpoint provides high-end security with a lot of flexibility, but its high prices and 85% cancellation fee render it a difficult proposition for some.
✓ Simple DIY installation
✓ 30-day money-back guarantee
✓ Cellular and email alerts
✓ Option of indoor/outdoor cameras with more expensive plans
✓ Home automation
✓ Disaster protection
✓ Large array of sensors and cameras
✗ Hard credit check
✗ Wireless only
✗ No pay-as-you-go plan
✗ High cancellation fees
✗ Poor customer service in regards to contractual details
✗ Live and recorded video only available for high end plans
With no lock-in contracts and optional monitoring, SimpliSafe is one of the top home security solutions for customers without a ton of money to spend. The company has been in business for 12 years and boasts an A+ rating with BBB. SimpliSafe’s good reputation with customers stems from its sleek, user-friendly, self-manufactured equipment, flexible pricing and optional monitoring.
SimpliSafe’s equipment comes with a three-year warranty and is 100% wireless. Homeowners can choose between a landline, broadband or cellular connected system, and the system is controlled through a base station rather than through a keypad on a control panel like most home security systems. This gives you added defense against clever crooks who know how to disable a system through damaging the control panel. Devices that come with the SimpliSafe system include the SimpliCam, an indoor camera with a motion sensor and HD video quality, and a keychain remote used to arm or disarm the system. Simplisafe does not include home automation features, other than Nest integration, which may be a turn off for some.
Unlike a majority of home security providers, SimpliSafe has no contracts. After you buy the initial package, with options ranging from $99 for one SimpliCam to $489 for the deluxe Haven package, the system is yours to do what you like with it.. Installation is DIY, but you can opt for a $199 professional installation if you want. Optional monthly monitoring plans cost $14.99 (no mobile control) and $24.99 (mobile control).
By making a conscious effort to right the wrongs of other home security providers by being transparent and not tricking people into long-term lock-in contracts with hidden stipulations, SimpliSafe has earned a reputation as a great choice for homeowners. While more home automation features and additional hardware options would sweeten the pot, you will likely be satisfied with Simplisafe as your home security solution.
✓ Simple DIY installation, with installation option
✓ Wireless equipment
✓ Environmental disaster protection
✓ Affordable rates
✓ 60-day trial
✓ Landline, broadband and cellular options
✓ Optional monitoring
✗ Pricey initial equipment costs
✗ No outdoor camera support
✗ No home automation support
American District Telegraph, the oldest home security provider in the United States, continues to put forward a good product. Still the likeliest home security sign you’ll see walking down the street, ADT stays at the top of the field by providing a broad range of services that most of its competitors cannot match, owing its established name and large amount of capital. Few other home security providers will allow customers to connect security systems from other providers, or offer such a wide-ranging choice of plans, including custom solutions, but ADT does.
ADT also shines in its monitoring centers and customer support: 24/7 monitoring from four stations around the US and around-the-clock technical support. In terms of quality, ADT uses top notch equipment by GE, Honeywell, and ITI. Customers can select from a wide range of tools, like high-decibel sirens, entry sensors, motion detectors and more. Another great feature is ADT’s app, which allows remote access to your home system, although it is only available in select packages.
ADT offers three basic packages: Traditional ($28.99 monthly monitoring fee plus $125 installation fee), Control (24/7 monitoring and home automation, $36.99/mo plus installation fee), and Video (all of the above as well as video surveillance, $52.99 a month plus installation fee). In addition to these monthly charges, customers will have to pay an activation fee and sign a three-year contract. Although you may cancel your service within six months if you have a significant service-related concern, after that half a year is up, canceling means being charged 75% of the contract’s remainder. All in all, ADT demands a serious time and cost commitment up front.
Overall, ADT is a very good choice for those who want to go with a trusted name and can afford the expense.
✓ Professional installation
✓ Wireless or hardwired systems
✓ 24/7 tech support
✓ Home automation with Smart Assistant Integration
✓ Six-month trial period (with caveats)
✓ Indoor and outdoor cameras
✓ Environmental monitoring
✗ High cost
✗ Three-year lock-in contract
✗ No choice of DIY installation
✗ Warranty limited to certain packages
✗ Features, prices, and equipment options vary by retailer and area
A relative newcomer to the home security industry given a boost through crowd funding its first product line, Scout is refreshingly transparent with its service compared to its competitors that often require long-term contracts with harsh cancellation penalties. Though some homeowners may prefer a more elaborate, professionally installed system, Scout is great for the more hands-on inclined customer with its highly customizable equipment and systems. You can opt for either self-monitoring or professional monitoring plans, and neither will set you back too much.
All of the equipment you use with a Scout system is self-manufactured and purchased upfront through the website. The equipment ships with a 60-day full-refund return policy and a 1-3 year limited warranty with few exceptions. Scout security systems are run through the Scout hub, a keypadless device that plugs directly into your router. Instead of the keypad, homeowners control the hub through the Scout Alarm mobile app. Through the app, you can view the status and regulate all of your installed devices: sensors, door panels, and motion detectors. The system is also compatible with home automation devices such as Amazon Alexa devices, Google Home, Nest, and other Z-Wave and Zigbee compatible devices.
After the initial high expense of purchasing equipment, Scout offers two month-to-month subscription plans depending on whether you opt for self or professional monitoring. Always On, the self monitoring plan, costs just $9.99 a month and comes with 4G LTE cellular and battery backup, while AlwaysOn+ goes for $19.99 and includes 24-hour professional monitoring.
Though not as extensive as some of the security solutions offered by market competitors, Scout is a great company with a solid product. Older homeowners might be put off by the lack of a keypad in the central hub, however many customers should be perfectly comfortable controlling everything through their mobile phones.
✓ Reasonably priced
✓ Straightforward DIY installation
✓ Money-back guarantee
✓ Support for Z-Wave and Zigbee
✓ Can opt for contract or contract-less plans
✓ One-to-three year warranty
✓ WiFi with cellular backup
✓ Modern, streamlined design
✓ Support for smart assistant integration
✗ Heavy reliance on mobile app
✗ No professional installation
✗ Requires subscription for self-monitoring with mobile app
✗ No proprietary camera
Brinks Home Security
Brinks Home Security, one of the established names in the industry, recently received a facelift after MONI Smart Security purchased the name rights to the company and gave the company a serious overhaul. The new and improved Brinks Home Security uses MONI monitoring and Livewatch DIY security systems for a more modern package. In terms of cost, Brinks is somewhere in the mid-range: not the cheapest, but not the most expensive, either.
The equipment you receive through Brinks is based on which plan you choose. The company offers two options. The Home Complete Model that comes with a Brinks Home Touch display, three wireless home sensors, one wireless motion sensor and a yard sign for $29 a month with a $249.50 equipment fee. The premium Home Complete Model costs $39 a month (equipment $299.50) adds video and cloud video storage. All the equipment you purchase through Brinks Home Security works through the smart home hub, which is compatible with a majority of smart home devices.
While the prices for both packages are reasonable given what they provide, many customers have left dissatisfactory reviews on Yelp and elsewhere, complaining of poor customer service and deceptive marketing tactics. So, be advised in reading the small print on the contract before signing. However, the 30-day risk free offer and 2-year warranty should alleviate concerns, somewhat. Overall, Brinks Home Security provides a quality product for a decent price in a crowded market.
✓ 30-day money-back guarantee
✓ Home automation support
✓ Easy DIY installation
✓ Live video streaming with cloud video storage
✓ Rate-locked contracts
✓ Intuitive, easy to control system
✗ Long-term contracts
✗ High cancellation fee
✗ Poorly rated customer service
As a young upstart in the home security industry, Armorax cannot offer the quality assurance based on name recognition like ADT, but it does have a compelling business model, with flexible plans, top-line 2GIG equipment, and a DIY installation option. With Armorax, customers have a lot of leeway in deciding which security solution is right for them, and can let the Armorax do the monitoring, or do it themselves.
Unlike other home security providers, Armorax has you buy equipment yourself, rather than lease it. You can select from the options available including 2GIG control panels, indoor and outdoor cameras, smart locks, etc. at varying cost, or just shell out $649 for a basic system. The hardware comes with a 3-5 year warranty and a $199 installation cost. The level of options, along with the choice of locking in to a three-year contract or the pay-as-you-go option, makes Armorax a great option for homeowners who want a higher level of decision making in their home security solution.
Armorax provides 24/7 monitoring for all manner of crises, including fires, break-ins and medical emergencies. Their response time is less than 2 minutes and alerts will be sent to your phone or email. Self-monitoring, while suspiciously no longer advertised on their website, is available through the Alarm.com mobile app for a fee of $29.95 a month. From the app you can adjust settings, control your system, monitor your camera stream, and receive alerts.
The main drawbacks of Armorex are its ever-shifting pricing structure and insufficient customer support. Not a lot of information is included on the website about means of tech support. The less-than-clear approach to pricing and technical support is understandable for a young company, but not a good look for a one that you’ve tasked with protecting your home.
✓ Mobile and web apps
✓ DIY installation feature
✓ Cloud storage
✓ Flexible pay options
✓ Cellular system
✓ Choice of monitoring options
✓ Z-Wave compatible home automation
✗ Large upfront cost with self-purchase of equipment
✗ Lack of transparency regarding technical support and certain pricing info
✗ Added mobile access fee
One of the top home security providers since entering the business in 1992, Protect America provides service for hundreds of thousands of customers around the United States and Canada. They offer flexibility in their equipment and available plans, allowing homeowners to choose the security solution that best suits their needs. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to Protect America indicated by their low C- rating from BBB. A majority of the complaints center around misinformation regarding the mandatory three year contract. In fact, most customers were not aware they were making such a long term commitment. This, coupled with the severe penalty for premature cancellation--100% of the remaining balance plus paying for all of the equipment--may give some pause in choosing Protect America as their home security solution.
Where Protect America shines is in its provided equipment: the company uses Simon control panels and sensors that are compatible with a number of Z-Wave devices built by other manufacturers. Homeowners choose between the Simon XT Pushbutton and Simon Touchscreen, a more advanced device capable of monitoring up to 40 devices around the home. The available sensors come in all varieties, including break sensors, smoke sensors, carbon monoxide sensors, and motion detectors. Cameras and other home automation features are also available.
Protect America offers both landline and wireless connectivity for monitoring. In some areas where cellular service is not up to snuff, landline connectivity (which is the cheapest option, at $19.99 a month) is probably the best way to go to ensure the ideal monitoring situation. The DIY installation process is fairly simple, though professional assistance is available over the phone.
When it comes to pricing and contracts, Protect America is less than ideal. While the three plans (Copper, Silver, and Platinum) are reasonably priced for what they deliver, the mandatory three-year contract and draconian policy might scare many away. Additional fees like $10 for fire monitoring and $10 for video monitoring are also not common for competing home security providers.
To sum up, if the long-term contract doesn’t scare you away, Protect America provides a reasonably priced service with flexible options.
✓ Wireless equipment
✓ Lifetime equipment warranty
✓ Simple installation and configuration
✓ Home automation option
✓ Responsive sensors
✓ Low front-end costs
✓ Indoor video cameras
✓ Environmental monitoring
✗ Pricey accessories
✗ Lack of outdoor cameras
✗ Three-year lock-in contract
✗ Stiff penalties for cancellation
✗ High price for cellular monitoring
✗ Low-end plan does not allow for interactive features
✗ No equipment purchase
While Nest Secure isn’t ideal for every everyone, it’s a good choice for customers living in a small home. For the relatively high price of $499, customers get a streamlined--yet effective security system adequate for a modest house with two entries. In contrast to other home security options, Nest Secure is 100% wireless and designed for self-monitoring, although Nest has partnered with Moni for a professional monitoring option.
The Nest Secure starter kit is comprised of one Nest Guard hub, two Nest Detect door.window sensors and two Nest tags adequate for a two-entry home. While, additional equipment is available for purchase, add-ons can get pretty expensive. Perhaps the best feature of the Nest equipment is the Nest Guard, a user friendly control panel that you use to arm and disarm your system and comes compatible with Google Assistant (Google is Nest’s parent company). Also unique is the Nest Tag, a handy little key chain that allows you to arm and disarm your system from anywhere without pulling out your phone.
Let’s talk about pricing: the starter pack will run you $499 and homeowners can buy Nest Cams for $99-199 and additional Nest Detect sensors go for $59 a pop. After the initial costs, Nest Secure is quite cheap, since it’s designed for self-monitoring. $10 dollars a month will buy you cellular backup via T-Mobile to send alerts if the WiFi goes kaput, and those who insist on professional monitoring can get it for $19 (three-year agreement) or $29 (pay-as-you-go) a month through Nest’s partnership with Moni.
However, Nest Secure does have its drawbacks: many BBB reviewers have issues with poor tech support and a lack of information on warranties. Furthermore, there is occasionally up to an hour delay in receiving alerts on your phone from the Nest Guard, a concerning issue. All in all, Nest Secure does provide a solid package for customers who prefer a self-monitoring system.
✓ Choice of DIY or professional installation
✓ User-friendly Nest app
✓ Self-monitoring and professional monitoring options
✓ Cell and battery backups
✓ Unique features
✓ Multiple entry options
✗ Poor tech support and customer service
✗ Expensive initial costs
✗ Long lag for alerts when using Nest app for self-monitoring
✗ Nest Aware is difficult to use and configure
✗ Be warned; parent company Google potentially records customer data for advertising purposes
It’s important to note that while some systems have clear advantages over others, choosing the best home security system ultimately depends on your individual needs and circumstances. For homeowners/renters on a budget, the systems offered by Scout and SimpliSafe with no-contract options, a simple array of equipment, and DIY installation are attractive choices, while those with a little money in the bank and no plans to move any time soon may opt for the more expansive systems and long-term commitments offered by Vivint and ADT. Furthermore, if you prefer to pick and choose your own equipment, Link Interactive is the best option.
All in all, choosing a home security system is an important decision that can have impactful consequences. We urge you to seriously weigh the pros and cons of each option before pulling the trigger on a security solution for your household.
How to choose a home security company?
Deciding on the right alarm company to protect your home can be difficult. Even among our best providers listed above, there are differences between them. Here's our thoughts on the best way to go about securing your home:
- Determine your budget: How much money are you looking spend on a system?
- Figure out your requirements: Are you looking for a comprehensive, professionally monitored system or a diy option, or something in between? Do you require video cameras indoors, outdoors, or not at all? Do you want a hard line system or something else?
- What's most important to you? Figure out which company meets your requirements
Basic features to look for in a security system
When you decide to buy a home security system it's important to figure out what type of features are most important to you. Here's a list of some of the more basic features we think you need:
- Control Panel with Keypad option
- Indoor video cameras
- outdoor video cameras
- Motion Detectors
- Mobile App
- Video Doorbell
- Smart Phone App
- Home Automation
- Contact Sensors for windows and doors
The 2020 Guide to Home Security
Home security is a real concern for homeowners across the nation, and with good reason. Crime data from the FBI shows a property crime is committed every 3.9 seconds in the U.S.
Being informed about crime rates, security risks, and ways to protect your home should be a goal for everyone living independently in 2020 - and that includes people with disabilities.
Crime rates show people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable and should take additional safety precautions.
In an effort to help, Alarms.org has created this guide to home security that’s fit for every ability and every home.
We’ll explore the following topics:
- Property crime statistics in the U.S.
- The most common threats to homeowners
- How criminals select a target
- Common security mistakes homeowners make and how to fix them
- Home security tips for people living with disabilities
- Security tips from the experts
- Questions to ask to find the right home security system
- Different security camera options
- Planning for the future of home security
Property crime statistics in the U.S.
- 7.9 million property crimes were committed in the nation in 2015, which is the most recent crime data from the FBI.
- Property crimes resulted in losses estimated at $14.3 billion in 2015.
- Property crime rates have steadily declined over the last ten years. In 2005, 10.1 million property crimes were committed. In 2015, that number was down to 7.9 million.
The most common threats to homeowners
There are three common threats that all homeowners face: Larceny, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. Of all property crimes in 2015, 71% of them were larceny-theft, 19.8% were burglaries, and 8.9% were motor vehicle theft. Here’s a look at what each crime is:
Larceny-theft: Larceny or theft occurs when someone takes property from another person. It doesn’t require entering a structure though. If a criminal takes a homeowner’s purse while she’s on her way into her home, for example, that’s larceny.
Burglary: When a criminal enters a home with the intent to take things, it’s burglary. This requires entry into a structure.
Motor vehicle theft: As the name suggests, motor vehicle theft happens when a car or truck is taken from a person’s home.
How criminals select a target
Most property crimes are crimes of opportunity. Criminals are looking to get in and out without getting caught. By understanding how home’s are targeted, homeowners can take steps to protect their homes. Research shows criminals access three things:
To a criminal, the best homes take very little time to get into. An unlocked door, an open window, or a garage door that’s unlocked give criminals entry to a home within seconds.
Make sure it’s hard to get into your home. Start by closing and locking all entry points. While a criminal can pick a lock, it takes time to do so and most criminals don’t want to risk the time to get caught.
A home security system is also a deterrent. The time necessary to bypass a security alarm is too great, which forces criminals to find another target.
The more noise a criminal makes to get inside a home, the more likely he or she will be noticed. As a homeowner, you don’t want an intrusion to go undetected. Homes with a security system sound an alarm during a break-in that certainly makes a criminal noticeable.
Having a dog often deters criminals as well since they’re likely to bark and draw attention to their presence.
To avoid getting caught, criminals keep a low profile. They hide in bushes or stand in unlit areas of a home before entering. In response, homeowners should keep their landscaping well-trimmed and add motion-sensing lights outside.
Placing a camera in a visible place outdoors is a good deterrent as well. The last thing a criminal wants is to be caught on video.
Common security mistakes homeowners make and how to fix them
When it comes to safety, many homeowners do take steps to protect their homes. However, many people make avoidable mistakes. To help, here’s a list of common security mistakes that can be fixed.
Doors left unlocked
Unlocked doors and windows pose a threat to any home.
In some cases, doors are left unlocked on accident, when a homeowner is rushing to work, for example. In other cases, homeowners believe their neighborhood is safe and leave entry points unlocked knowingly.
Even if a neighborhood is considered safe, giving criminals easy access to your home is never a good idea. Always lock your doors and windows.
Obvious spare key
Leaving a spare key in plain sight or in a not-so-hidden spot, like under a welcome mat, is still a common mistake that many homeowners make. Consider leaving a key with a neighbor instead of hiding one outside, or install an automatic lock that’s controlled by a smartphone.
No outdoor lights
Burglars like to act in the cover of night. When there are no lights, it lets burglars slip around a home unnoticed. Adding a few outdoor lights that are triggered by motion sensors is an affordable solution.
When a homeowner is home, leaving the curtains open is fine. When a homeowner is gone, open curtains are an invitation to scope out a home’s interior. With a simple peek inside, a burglar can scan for high-value targets like cash sitting on the counter, tablets charging, and laptops left on desktops.
Closing the curtain is a simple action that can deter burglars.
Not locking sheds and garages
Storage sheds, garages, and storage containers are often overlooked in terms of security. There are plenty of valuable, easy-to-steal items in a garage or shed. Everything from an ATV or motorcycle to a tools and kid’s toys are ripe for the picking.
Make sure these areas are secured and locked. Adding outdoor lights controlled by motion sensors is a good idea as well.
Weak door frame
If a criminal wants in, he or she might try to kick the door open. Often times it’s not the lock that gives way, but the frame. Many homeowners don’t reinforce the door frame. A simple fix is to attach the strike plate of a lock with long (3-4 inch) screws to provide added security when pressure is applied to the door.
Ignoring the second floor
The majority of criminals go for an easy, vulnerable access point like a first-floor window. However, criminals know that homeowners tend to be a bit more lax when it comes to security on the second floor. An overgrown tree and an open bedroom window on the second floor is all a burglar needs to gain entry.
Homeowners should pay as much attention to security on the second floor as they do on the first floor.
Lack of a home security system
One of the first things burglars do is check for a home security system. In many cases, criminals watch you going in and out of your home to see if there’s an alarm in place, or they look inside your window to check for a security panel.
Research shows 90% of convicted burglars avoid homes with alarms, so adding a security alarm is a wise investment to deter property crimes.
Home security tips for people living with disabilities
Fourteen percent of the U.S. population is made up of people living independently with a disability, according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice. Crime data shows this group is more vulnerable to attacks.
Crime rates against people with disabilities
The rate of violent victimization for people with disabilities is 2.5 times higher than the rate for persons without disabilities. With certain crimes, like rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, people with disabilities are three times as likely to be victimized.
The chart from the Department of Justice below shows the difference between violent victimizations against people with disabilities and people without disabilities.
People with disabilities reported 39 percent of robberies and 40 percent of aggravated assaults to the police in 2010. Persons without disabilities reported much higher percentages of these crimes: 63 percent of robberies and 65 percent of aggravated assaults. The chart below from the New Mexico Department of Health shows these trends.
Statistics provide a look at what kind of disabilities create the most vulnerability. People with cognitive disabilities have the highest rates of total violent crime (57.9 per 1,000). Disabled people living independently and those requiring ambulatory care are the most vulnerable. This chart from Quartz provides a more detailed look at the numbers.
Crime prevention tips for people with disabilities
People living with a disability should take special crime-prevention measures. To help people with disabilities take the right precautions while still respecting their dignity, here are some suggestions:
Choose disabled-friendly home security systems
An alarm system provides protection and also offers some great features that provide peace of mind for caretakers. Here are the features to look for:
In case of an emergency, having a panic button is ideal. A panic button is often wearable and comes in the form of a necklace or bracelet.
With one touch, it gives people the ability to call for help. Whether a person falls in the bathtub or has an intruder lurking outside, a panic button provides a direct line to assistance.
Security cameras can keep an eye out for criminal activity, but they also give family members the ability to monitor the person and the home remotely. Cameras provide a discreet way for family members to look in on someone with a disability, giving them the freedom to live independently while caretakers get peace of mind.
Often, home security cameras can be accessed through an app and provide real-time streaming video. The cameras can also record video and can be set to record based 24/7 or when a motion detector on a camera is tripped.
Some security cameras also provide two-way communication. A caretaker can talk directly to their loved one and he or she can respond through a speaker on the camera system.
Window and door sensors
A home security system should also include door and window sensors. The sensors are simply installed by sticking them to the window or door frame. If the door is kicked in or a window is broken, the sensors are tripped, an alarm rings and help is called.
Remote control system
Many security systems can be controlled remotely by more than one user. Many systems use smartphone apps as a control, which could give both the person with a disability and a caregiver access to the system.
From the app or remote control, a door could be locked or an alarm could be set, for example.
Explanation of system
Of course, when installing a home security system, it’s important for the disabled person to understand why it’s there and learn how to operate it. Many systems offer user-friendly features aimed at the elderly and people with disabilities, which makes learning a new routine easier.
Improve accessibility around the house
To improve safety for people with disabilities, there are certain things that can be changed around a home too. When making improvements, make sure:
- Doors and windows have working locks
- Doors are clear and easy to get in and out
- Walkways are free of rugs or rugs that are tacked down
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working
- Grab bars are in the bathroom
- Clutter is limited
- Furniture is spaced out
Properly lighting a home provides many security benefits. Lights inside a home reduce the likelihood of accidents. Add lights to areas that tend to be dark, like staircases, hallways and under kitchen cabinets. To add lights without an electrician, consider adhesive lights that stick to any hard surface and run on batteries.
It’s also important to add lights to the outside. Motion-sensing lights are a good choice. Not only will the lights come on when a disabled person is going outside, but they’ll also be triggered by any unwanted guests in the yard.
Teach stranger safety skills
It’s important that people with disabilities have stranger safety skills. To start, talk about what a stranger is and give examples. Simply saying that a stranger is someone you don’t know isn’t enough. Is the woman at your favorite ice cream shop a stranger? What about a classmate’s mom or a friend’s mom? It’s important to distinguish between a stranger and a friend, explains Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.
Next, talk about what a stranger might say to lure them away. The stranger might ask for help, offer a treat, or say a parent asked them to pick them up.
Next, talk about what to do if a stranger does approach. The first thing to do is say, “No” in a loud voice. Then, get away from the stranger and look for a trusted adult.
Consider acting out different situations in different settings so the person with disabilities can understand how to stay safe.
Community safety tips
When people with disabilities are out in the community, safety is also a concern. Here are a few safety suggestions:
Cell phone with ICE contact
Make sure the person is carrying a cell phone. Explain who to call in different emergencies. If they’re hurt, call 911. If they missed the bus for work, they can call a caregiver for a ride.
In addition, make sure there is a contact in the phone marked as an emergency contact. Some people put the letters “ICE” behind a name, which stands for “in case of emergency.” If the person is involved in an accident, authorities can quickly tell who to call.
Point out trusted adults and safety features
People with disabilities should know there are people in their community they can trust. A lifeguard at the local pool, for example, is there to help. Police officers, firefighters - they’re trusted, community helpers.
In addition, point out safety features at frequently visited places. A park equipped with blue lights, for example, can call the police in an emergency.
Talk about feeling scared
People with disabilities should learn what to do if they feel scared in any situation. The concept of “trusting your gut” applies to everyone. If a person or a situation doesn't feel right, tell them it’s alright to leave. Often people with disabilities don’t want to be rude or aren’t sure of their instincts, but with a little coaching, they’ll understand their safety comes first.
Expert security tips for everyone homeowner
When it comes to security, no one should take chances. Here are some security tips from experts to make sure everyone, including people with disabilities, are taking all of the proper precautions.
Invest in a home security system
Burglars are less likely to target a home that has a security system. There are dozens of home security systems available on the market today. Homeowners can find a system that monitors the entire home with cameras, sensors, lighting, and mobile access.
Homeowners that are on a budget shouldn’t shy away from buying a system either. There are a number of security systems that are buildable. Homeowners can start with a few sensors on the door and one interior camera and slowly add components to the system.
Keep landscaping in check
What does landscaping have to do with your home security? An untrimmed tree can help a burglar get in through a window. Wild bushes can provide the perfect hiding place for a burglar to stay, waiting until you sleep to break in. Trimmed landscaping takes opportunities away from burglars, and it’s one of the most overlooked aspects of home security.
Take vacation precautions
Planning to leave town? If so, homeowners should make it look like they’re still home. make. Buy timers for the lights so they flip on and off at different times, have the yard mowed while you’re away, don’t share travel plans on social media, and have someone collect the mail. The idea is to eliminate any sign that a homeowner is gone.
Check windows after contractors leave
There are reported cases of burglaries happening after a contractor works in a home. In some cases, the contractor comes back to victimize the homeowner, or the contractor tells someone else about the unlocked window. After any work is done in a home, check the window locks to make sure everything is secure.
Opt for a safe that doesn’t look like a safe
Safes are easy to spot and easy to walk off with. Rather than buying a square safe with a lock on it, buy a safe that looks more like an everyday item. A safe that looks like a book and sits on the bookshelf, for example, isn’t likely found.
Mark valuables uniquely
Often, burglars steal high-priced items and pawn them for cash. Once the item is taken, even if it turns up at a pawn shop, it’s hard to prove ownership. However, if the homeowner marks their valuables with a UV light pen, ownership can be proved. This kind of unique marking can be placed on jewelry and electronics as an added line of defense in the event it’s stolen.
Questions to ask to find the right home security system
A home security system should meet the needs of the homeowner, first and foremost. To help find the right system, answer these questions.
How much coverage is needed?
Larger systems provide sensors, lights, and cameras that cover an entire home. Smaller systems have sensors for the main entry point and interior camera.
What kind of equipment do you prefer?
Consider what equipment is best for your home.
Will it run on Wi-Fi?
Some home security systems are wireless and rely on Wi-Fi, but if Wi-Fi is unreliable in the home it’s best to opt for a wired system.
What kind of features are needed?
Consider features like remote access and motion-sensing lights. Home automation is an increasingly popular feature too. These features allow a homeowner to activate a system through Amazon Alexa, for example.
What kind of cameras do you want and where?
From interior cameras to rugged, outdoor cameras with zoomable lenses, camera types and abilities vary.
Will the system be professionally installed or is it a DIY install?
Installation is a personal preference. However, many systems are easy to install and don’t require any wiring. Some don’t even require mounting equipment.
Will the system be professionally monitored or self-monitored?
Homeowners can have a company monitor their home for a small monthly fee or they can do it themselves. Systems that are self-monitored send alerts to a phone.
How much will the system cost?
Costs for systems vary. Larger systems that offer full-house coverage with professional monitoring are the most expensive options. Smaller, self-monitored systems are the most affordable choice.
Different security camera options
One of the most customizable aspects of a home security system is the camera set up. Here’s a quick look at the different kinds of home security cameras available:
Indoor cameras are designed to sit inside and monitor an area. Cameras can sit on a tabletop or they can be mounted, depending on the homeowner’s preference. In some cases, indoor cameras can even be designed to blend in with the decor to make them as discreet as possible.
To provide outdoor protection, there are a variety of outdoor cameras that can withstand the elements. Some outdoor cameras can be controlled remotely, giving the homeowner the ability to pan or zoom the camera from their smartphone, for example.
Many of the outdoor cameras are triggered by a motion sensor. When something trips the sensor, the camera starts to record. By using a motion sensor, recording time is limited to an event rather than running 24/7. By limiting the recording time, it keeps storage needs and costs down.
Doorbell cameras have become a popular security tool. These cameras can help monitor who’s at the door and can record video when the doorbell is pushed. Doorbell cameras are some of the most affordable camera choices.
Planning for the future of home security
Home security has certainly changed over the last few years and it will continue to change in the future. What does the future of home security look like? What can homeowners expect as they re-examine their security needs in the future?
Experts say the future will mimic the growing technology trend. Home security systems will likely have these features:
Many home security systems are controlled by smartphones and that trend will continue. Systems will have fewer wall-mounted keypads, and instead, give more controls to more devices.
Voice activation is quickly becoming a staple in homes across the country. Several security systems offer integrations with popular voice activation hubs like Amazon Alexa, but experts predict companies that are moving toward voice controls will become obsolete.
There’s new technology in the making that could add to the arsenal of security devices. New sensor-lined fences, for example, could detect when someone hops over a fence. Small, low-flying drones that monitor a home from above are also in the works.
A decade ago, home security systems were a tool used in affluent neighborhoods. Now, prices have come down making them more affordable for everyday families. Experts say prices will continue to drop as technology improves.
AI provides increased security
Many security systems work on schedules set by the homeowner, but in the future experts say artificial intelligence will sense when people have left a home and take the proper steps to secure it.
Systems could also learn voice tones and recognize when a stranger is in the house, and recognize homeowners that accidentally set off the alarm and refrain from calling authorities.
Neighborhood watch goes digital
Home security systems will give homeowners the ability to share concerns, pictures, and videos with neighbors in an effort to keep the entire community safe. Neighborhood watch won’t consist of walking the streets and hosting meetings. Instead, neighbors will likely share intel via security apps and belong to the same social groups focused on their neighborhood safety.
Home protection is a major concern for residents across the country, but homeowners of every ability can take proactive measures to safeguard their homes. By evaluating a home’s security, making common-sense changes, and investing in an alarm system, homeowners can rest assured knowing that steps have been taken to protect not only their homes and belongings but also the people they love.