|College of Eastern Utah student Leslie Reece enters his dorm, which he now locks. A recent rash of reported burglaries at the college have forced students to be more mindful of their habits when leaving their residents.|
During the past three weeks, College of Eastern Utah students have reported dorm rooms burglaries at an unprecedented rate.
Campus Police Chief James Prettyman indicated that, during the three-week period, five computers, two XBox 360s with games, three ipods, a cell phone, a Nintendo Wii with games, a set of personal keys including a dorm key, a Nintendo DS Lite and a Kodak camera were reportedly stolen from local campus dormitories.
"This level of burglary is an anomaly on our campus," said Prettyman. "This is really out of the ordinary for CEU. It is definitely the worst series of burglaries I have seen in my 12 years of service here."
According to Prettyman when the crimes began to take place three weeks ago they were immediately treated as burglaries which makes the transgressions a felony on every count.
"Because these individuals are entering the rooms with the intent to commit a crime they will be charged with burglary," said Prettyman. "My main concern as a law officer is to catch the individuals responsible before they are caught in the act by a student and things go from bad to worse."
Campus security along with CEU administration are already taking steps to end the crimes by installing new locking mechanisms in all dormitories.
"Work has already started in the Aaron-Jones Dorms and will continue until we get them all," said Prettyman.
The burglaries have been on the minds of CEU students as well, including Leslie Reece who moved from Ferron in Emery County to attend CEU.
"I wanted to come here to CEU because it was close to home and it was safe, but things have been different since so much stuff has come up missing lately," said Reece.
Reece mentioned that, while only electronics were being targeted at the present point in time, students living in the dorms are being much more careful with all of their personal items.
"Everyone is locking their doors and they never really did that before," pointed out Reece. "I trust most everyone here at CEU. It has been a great place to go to school. There are some bad seeds, but for the most part, I feel very safe at the college."
The burglary and theft incidents are also being addressed by the college administration, indicated CEU representatives.
According to CEU Vice President of Finance Kevin Walthers, the school is not only changing the cores within the lock systems, but the college is approaching the Utah Legislature for funds in order to install a key card system on all doors within the college.
"We really feel that a key card system will be the answer to many of the security problems here at CEU," said Walthers. "You know, 82 percent of the students at this institution are receiving some type of financial aid meaning they are not rich. When a student has worked with their parents to save for something like a laptop for school it is a big blow to have it stolen."
Walthers further pointed out that even if insurance covers the cost of the stolen property a student still loses all files and data stored on their personal machine and that can be devastating.
"I know first hand what it is like to lose data," said Walthers. "I had a machine crash a few months back and I had not backed up my files for quite some time. It took me months to get back some of that information and some of it was lost forever."
Walthers has also directed all resident advisers at the college to warn students that once they get their new keys they should keep their doors locked at all times.
"We all get complacent sometimes because we live in Carbon County," said Walthers.
He further stated how unfortunate it is that the crimes committed by these individuals has forced students to worry about their belongings.
According to CEU student and dormitory resident Zandria Nebeker, she has started to lock her dorm at all times. Something she did not do before the burglaries.
It appears that the recent rash of crimes have affected nearly all students who take up residence at CEU.
Prettyman assured the newspaper that the current case is his number one priority and the campus police chief is using every asset available to the campus department in order to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice.