By KRISTINA L. ADAMZ
Brigham Young University is not immune to criminal activity.
“We’re fortunate to live in a community that is a premier, safe place in the world,” said Lt. Greg Barber, manager of Administrative Services. “We have to recognize that there will be predators. We need to be aware and cautious.”
Crime at BYU has decreased slightly in the past few years. Because of the relatively low rate of crime, it is a time to teach students so they “don’t become victims,” Barber said.
While crime has decreased overall, there has been a drastic increase in vandalism, much of it due to a prevailing gang mentality, Barber said. According to crime statistics, vandalism hit a peak with 117 reported incidents in 1995, but then dropped to 90 the following year.
Crime stays steady throughout the year and increases between summer and fall semesters, but a lull is seen during the holidays, said William C. Pray, manager of police communications and records. Seventy-five percent of crime on campus is committed by individuals coming from off-campus, he said.
The most common crime is petty theft, which constitutes about one-fourth of the criminal activity on campus, Barber said. Of the 2,377 incidents reported last year, over 400 were theft, he said.
Barber gave some suggestions to help students avoid becoming victims of crime:
–Don’t walk or jog alone while it’s dark. Utilize friends and SafeWalk.
–Be confident. Walk heads up and know what is going on.
–Ask for help. People will help if asked to.
–Park near street lights, lock car doors and look underneath and inside the vehicle before getting in.
–Lock the doors to the apartment and vehicle.
–Make sure the apartment windows are secure.
–Leave outside lights on. It reduces the hiding places of predators.
–Don’t advertise personal items.
–Be aware of circumstances and surroundings.
The University Police has programs to inform students, staff and administration about crime prevention. Sgt. Bob Eyre, of the University Police Crime Prevention division, said police work closely with BYUSA and support them.
Some of the programs services offered by campus police deal with sexual assault, neighborhood watch and environmental security. A booklet is available through University Police that explains these programs and lists several others.
“A university is a business, and to have crime is not good business,” Pray said.
BYU has not had a problem with concealing campus crime. “We’ve always been in compliance,” Pray said.
Compared to other colleges and universities, just how well does BYU rank in its prevention of criminal activity?
“Crime in Utah” is an annual publication listing the criminal statistics for the state. In 1992, BYU had a total of 677 crimes, compared to the University of Utah’s total of 971.
Each university had an increase in 1995: BYU’s total increased to 883 and the U of U’s to 1,512. The following year crime at both universities decreased. BYU had a total of 612 and the U of U’s lowered to 1,251.
For a better understanding, “Crime in the United States” listed totals for violent crimes and property crimes, then it broke the totals into separate categories. Violent crimes consist of murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes are represented by burglary, larceny and car theft.
This breakdown showed that BYU had five violent crimes and 488 property crimes in 1993. The U of U had 14 violent crimes and 870 property crimes. The 1996 issue showed BYU as having reported six violent crimes and 465 property crimes. The U of U had a decrease: 11 violent crimes and 688 property crimes.
Curtis Ostrander and Joseph Schwartz wrote “Crime at College: The Student Guide to Personal Safety,” which discusses things to look for when deciding on a college. The book also includes a list of college towns ranked according to their crime rates.
In the west, Provo is seventh on the list of the 20 safest college towns while Salt Lake City is ranked 17th on the list of the 20 most dangerous college towns. Out of the 467 colleges ranked across the nation, BYU was ranked 121 with a crime rate of 4.26; the U of U was ranked 342 with a crime rate of 7.65.
The crime rates were determined by the number of crimes per 100 residents of the area. The colleges chosen were four-year schools with an enrollment of at least 5,000. The lowest crime rate was at the University of Northern Iowa, a crime rate of 1.14. St. Louis University in Missouri had the highest crime rate at 14.80.