By CATHY ANN SCHMIT
BYU campus and students are not free from the evils of crime which have plagued colleges and universities across the nation and continue to grow increasingly severe, said Brian Andreason, lieutenant of University Police.
“Crime is everywhere; some places are better than others. I’d classify BYU as one of the better places. BYU is pretty darn safe comparatively, but not completely,” said Bill Pray, dispatch supervisor.
BYU is a relatively safe place, Andreason said, but there are still some who commit various crimes on campus and people need to be on the look-out, especially as the area grows and develops.
The Campus Security Report for 1995-1996 states, “The State of Utah is reported to be one of the safest places in the nation, but is not immune to the social problems encountered in other parts of the nation.”
Most crimes on campus are against property, not people, Andreason said.
“Ninety percent of crime here on BYU campus is theft, delayed theft which means the incident is not reported immediately so the perpetrator has escaped and the trail is cold,” Pray said.
Wallets, purses, books, backpacks, computer software and money are among items stolen. Andreason said that bikes are the most common items stolen on campus, especially the last couple of years. He said some people think, “Come to BYU and get a bike; they are everywhere.”
“Our biggest problem is that people leave things around,” Pray said.
The bookstore reports a good shrinkage rating, a number which shows how much loss is incurred including accounting errors, breakage and theft, said Dennis Linberg, Bookstore director of operations. But theft does occur in the store. Linberg said the Honor code penalty is so stiff it usually stifles the amount of theft.
“We see lots of vandalism of materials in the library. I think people may not understand that writing in books is not allowed, because after all, we write in our scriptures,” said Larry Ostler, assistant university librarian for personnel.
Ostler said he has a suspicion that it is not as bad here because of the LDS culture, but it is a concern.
A second predominant crime is what is called a communication crime. These crimes include obscene phone calls or mail, exhibitionism and voyeurism, Andreason said.
An obscene phone call is intended to shock the victim or to gain sexual gratification. Exhibitionism, or indecent exposure, is the act of exposing parts or the entirety of one’s body in a manner which is offensive or sexually gratifying for the offender. Voyeurism is more commonly known as “Peeping Toms.” These individuals obtain stimulation just by seeing or watching someone through their window. These explanations are found in the Campus Crime Report.
Andreason said there has been a slight increase in voyeurism. The most prevalent style is watching people through binoculars while sitting in a car.
Sexual assault and rape are less common here at BYU, but Andreason said the statistics which represent these crimes may not be accurate because many rapes and sexual assaults are never reported.
“Half of BYU crime is committed by perpetrators not affiliated with BYU. They see BYU as prime opportunity to gain treasures of all sorts,” Andreason said. “They just take advantage of a trusting situation.”
More and more, the crime on campus is committed by professionals who know the system. This is all the more reason to secure belongings and be careful, Andreason said.
“The problem is that students can be too trusting. The student body is outstanding but because of some poor choices there is a lot of personal tragedy and then consequences to deal with,” Andreason said.
Andreason said there are many things students can do to close the door of opportunity and not give potential offenders a chance to offend.
Bikes should be locked with U-locks. Andreason said it does not make sense when he sees $300 to $400 bikes locked with a little wire wrap around or not at all. He said this is a blatant invitation to all who walk by.
“Do not leave things out,” Andreason said. People become overly trusting and they leave their backpacks out and open when they run to the copy machine or the restroom and when they return their belongings are gone.
Often times people do not lock the doors to their homes or cars and items are stolen or vandalized. University police said it only takes a few more seconds of thought and action to lock the doors and protect yourself from being victimized.
Students can also protect themselves from being exposed to exhibitionism or being sexually assaulted, Andreason said.
“Notice what is going on around you. Know the 911 system on campus and write down important phone numbers,” Andreason said. “Have a friend walk with you, utilize lighted areas, be in crowds and if you don’t feel comfortable, find a new route.”
“Formulate a plan of action. Figure what you would do in a given situation; this reduces freeze time (the reaction time before action is taken),” said Lynn Stokes, university investigator.
Andreason said there is nothing wrong with introducing your date to your roommates. It takes away the anonymity. Let them know where you will be, when you will be home and who you are with.
If walking alone, although not encouraged, call and let roommates know, walk in well-lit areas, avoid dense shrubbery and carry a whistle or other alarm,suggests the Campus Crime Report.
BYU offers a variety of programs which aid in the prevention of crime. Currently, a community policy is in effect. This program encourages members of the community to lend eyes and ears and to report any suspicious behavior, Andreason said.
The University Police offer free seminars and lectures in the dorms and health classes each semester which teach about safety precautions.
BYUSA sponsors “safe walk,” a program which provides an escort to accompany students anywhere on campus from about 6 p.m. to midnight, Andreason said.
“Emergency phones have been placed at 37 locations on campus which are directly linked to the university police. The police can get anywhere on campus in two to three minutes,” Harmon said