Theft on campus not uncommon

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    By BERT MILLS

    For many students, BYU is a haven from the outside world where a person does not need to worry about too many things and can just enjoy life and attend school.

    Unfortunately for many, this bubble is popped within the first month of school as they find themselves the victims of crime.

    Many crimes occur on campus, including theft, vandalism and assault. One of them stands out as the most common.

    Cpl. Wayne Beck, crime prevention specialist for University Police, said theft is the most common crime reported on campus, and many thefts are not even reported.

    “In September 1996 there were seven bikes stolen, and for Fall Semester 22 bikes were stolen. Thefts in general for Fall Semester were reported at a total of 105,” said Shannon Schmidt, full-time dispatcher for University Police.

    One of the best ways to prevent theft is to make people aware of the situation.

    The positive atmosphere of BYU gives students a false sense of security, Beck said.

    The Harold B. Lee Library and the Richards Building are hot spots for theft, Schmidt said.

    “BYU students and employees are vulnerable because they do not understand the risk of theft,” Beck said.

    Bikes and textbooks are common items taken from students at BYU. The biggest time for textbook theft is near the end of a semester because the books can be sold quickly. Bike thefts fluctuate during the school year.

    Students are victims of theft because of a false sense of security and because they do not have a set routine, Beck said.

    “Our Zion does not have fences,” Beck said.

    Beck offered some ways that students can protect themselves from thieves:

    * Stay with your belongings

    * Lock rooms

    * Put things in lockers and lock the locker

    * Register bikes

    * Use a U-Lock on a bike

    * Mark items with an engraver (University Police lends out engravers)

    Bike theft is a common occurrence on campus. Students, however, can take steps to protect themselves from being victimized.

    Sgt. Russ Fuller, University Police, said students should make sure that what they get to lock up their bikes is sufficient to secure the type of bikes they have.

    Registering a bike is a regulation on campus and simple to do. It costs $1 and is good for as long as the owner has the bike.

    “If a bike is stolen then we can pull the registration and put it out on a national file. If the bike is found anywhere in the nation, the bike will get back to the owner,” Fuller said.

    An example about what happens when a bike is not registered was given by Fuller. A $400 bike was held for five years by University Police, and the department could not get rid of it because it was confiscated as evidence. Police looked for the owner and finally found the person. The bike would have been returned in a few days if the bike had been registered.

    “The best way to register your bike is to bring the bike to the Traffic Office and fill out the paperwork there,” Fuller said. Things like serial number, style, make, model, attachments and wheel size are all included in the paperwork.

    “Even if the thief took off the registration sticker, the bike’s serial number is still registered,” Fuller said. “That is the big difference.”

    Witnesses are a great source of help. When people get involved and call in a license plate number or description, it really helps out, Fuller said.

    Sexual assault is another crime on campus. University Police make an effort to educate students about this crime. It includes lewd conduct, inappropriate touching and rape.

    Assault has a low crime rate, but the impact is great. Many students do not think sexual assault exists at BYU, Beck said.

    Jean Taylor Scott, coordinator for Women’s Services and Resources, said by and large, BYU is a safe campus. However, assaults do occur.

    University Police has a program that talks to Relief Society and Elders Quorum groups of LDS wards. The idea is to make people aware of the vulnerability of getting into specific situations. Most people are supportive of the program even though University Police talk with many Relief Societies and few Elders Quorums.

    “The University Police has wise counsel for women regarding their safety, and both women and men should take the necessary precautions for their own personal safeguard,” Scott said.

    Information about assault and theft can be picked up at B-66 ASB.

    Andrea Birch, an officer for University Police, said women need to realize it is not happy valley here. Women have a right to run alone, but it isn’t smart. The student is increasing her risk of assault.

    “Any place on campus that is dark or not well-traveled is a prime area. An example would be Maeser Hill because there are bushes and little light to see. Students need to beware of what is going on,” Birch said.

    Please call University Police at 378-2222 with any information about a crime or to report a crime.

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