Special Section Editor Tamsyn Turner contributed to this story.
In a recent survey of BYU-Idaho student apartments, the school found that half of apartments are left unlocked when students aren’t home, said Garth Gunderson, director of security and safety.
Leaving windows open and doors unlocked greatly increases the risk of break-ins, theft and pranks, according to Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department. Lewis said that this is especially a problem when students leave their apartments for extended periods of time, such as breaks or during LDS general conference.
“In the past, break-ins have been a major problem, especially because students will leave their doors unlocked and windows cracked open,” Lewis said.
Katrina Miller, a senior studying English, said she is shocked by how many people in Rexburg do not lock their doors.
“There is so little publicized crime that they all feel safe and don’t take precautions,” Miller said. “I know and have heard of stories where people get broken into during church, FHE and devotional. … My managers have even emailed us warnings. No one listens. I could literally walk into any apartment in my complex right now. No one would know.”
Lewis said break-ins, pranks and other crimes are not as uncommon as some students may think.
At the beginning of March, a prank was pulled on an apartment in Birch Plaza.
A gro of males reportedly “spray[ed] a fire extinguisher and threw eggs all over the apartment,” said Heather Orme, property manager of Birch Plaza and Birchwood 1 and 2.
Orme said after that event, she set out a warning for all the tenants to remember to lock their doors.
To prevent future break-ins, Orme suggested that students remember to always make sure that doors and windows are locked.
She also said students should not give out apartment keys or codes.
“I know a lot of people think that we live in a small town and that kind of stuff doesn’t happen, but it does,” Orme said.
Lewis said it is important to be really cautious about giving out information about the valubles in one’s apartment, and that students should never give out keys or passcodes, even to friends.
“It would be nice to say you can trust people, but really, you can’t,” Lewis said.
Students at BYU-I should not be concerned about college pranks alone, Gunderson said.
“Even though Rexburg is considered a very safe place to live, there are still many people that would do you harm who live within a 30-minute drive of our campus,” Gunderson said.
According to www.homefacts.com, 27 registered sex offenders live in Rexburg.
According to the site, Rigby has 48 registered sex offenders and Idaho Falls has 262 registered sex offenders.
Gunderson said that there are too many women walking and running alone at night, and students who need to be on campus alone after dark should call Security and Safety for a “safe walk to their apartment.
To contact the safe-walk service, students can call 208-406-3000.