Stay off the Police Beat: Prevent yourself from being a victim

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Valentine’s Day for BYU student Bruce Lang turned sour when he discovered that someone had stolen his $900 Cannondale bike by cutting through the cable lock securing it to his apartment’s stairwell.

Bruce lang shows his bike lock which was cut last month. His bike was stolen, but fortunately, police found it in a pawn shop on March 22. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
Bruce lang shows his bike lock which was cut last month. His bike was stolen, but fortunately, police found it in a pawn shop on March 22. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

According to Provo Police Sgt. Mathew Siufanua, while Provo is a safer city than most, incidents like Lang’s are not uncommon and crimes happen in Provo every day on and off campus.

“Predators go after the weak and the slow.,” Siufanua said. “Don’t be the slow one; be a hard target. Like any predator (criminals) are looking for easy targets and leave the hard targets alone. If you use common sense in all that you do and focus on being a hard target, really, you’ll do fine.”

The Provo River Trail

“I don’t know what it is about the trail and wanting to run alone at 1 a.m., but students do it,” Siufanua said. “The trail’s relatively safe, but we have had some very serious crimes happen there in the last five years. We have had two rapes, one of which was actually an attempted homicide.”

University Police Sergeant Michael Mock advised students to jog with multiple people and not be so trusting.

“Jogging alone is never smart,” he said. Siufanua agreed.

“If you go alone, don’t wear headphones on both ears,” Siufanua said. “Only wear one on one ear so you can hear if someone’s coming up behind you, and always have a cell phone ready to be dialed.”

If 911 is dialed while on the trail, police have to hike or bicycle to the scene unless they have a motorcycle officer on duty.

“Always be thinking about where you are at, know which mile marker or park you’re nearby,” Siufanua said.

Bicycle theft

According to University Police, bicycle theft is the most common crime at BYU. People from off campus looking for quick drug money often come to BYU to steal bicycles.

It’s important to buy a high-quality bike lock. The best kind of lock to get is a U-bolt. Avoid cable locks because they are easily cut.

“Think about it: if one bike on the bike rack has a cheap lock and the other has a U-bolt, which one’s more likely to get stolen? You get what you pay for,” Siufanua said. “People put their bikes in the front yard and expect them to be there. Put your bike in an area where you can actually see it.”

Lang’s bike was stolen when his cable lock was cut. He now rides a $20 bike he bought off of the Internet. “They targeted my locked bike when there were plenty of bikes unlocked on the bike rack,” he said. Lang recommended students avoid bringing expensive bikes to school.

Other thefts

According to Provo Police, walk-in burglaries are common in student apartment complexes. Students feel safe and leave the doors open, inviting thieves to walk in and take what they want. Protection from theft is relatively easy. Lock all doors and make a record of valuable items, including the serial numbers of laptops, iPads and bicycles. Students can also purchase renters insurance to protect their valuable items. Even if an item is stolen outside of an apartment, renters insurance will often cover the replacement cost. It typically costs a few dollars a month.

Sometimes students’ belongings are taken when they get sloppy about protecting their things while on campus.

“Don’t leave your property unattended at the library, don’t leave your backpack unattended at the Smith Fieldhouse, and lock your car and hide valuable items from sight. Sometimes we just get lax because this is BYU. The majority of our thefts are committed by off-campus individuals who prey on students,” said Lt. Arnie Lemmon of University Police.

Harassment

“Harassment can quickly spill over to become stalking.,” Lemmon said. “A boyfriend can’t leave his former girlfriend alone because God told him she’s ‘the one.’ Well, law enforcement will tell him if he contacts her again he’ll be arrested.”

According to University Police, it’s important to not let harassment escalate into stalking or domestic violence. People may be afraid to get law enforcement involved because they don’t want to get the harassing person in trouble.

“If you feel at risk, notify law enforcement. No one deserves to be threatened, demeaned or abused; there are laws against that,” Lemmon said.

Fraud

“Don’t believe anything you hear over the phone or get in the mail. Always confirm,” Siufanua said. “Recently there has been a scam going around in Provo where the fraud uses technology to put Provo City on the caller ID of their victim. The caller then tells the victim that they have a utility bill they have to pay and steals their credit card number when the victim tries to pay for the phony utility bill over the phone. To avoid becoming a victim of this crime, always pay your utility bill by calling the number in the phone book or the number on your phone bill.”

Lemmon explained the best way to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud is by following one simple rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Lang’s bike was found on March 22 in an area pawn shop. He got very lucky, but not everyone can be so lucky if they don’t play it smart.

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