Senate focuses on burglaries

Weber State University Police Chief Dane LeBlanc discussed statistics concerning crime on campus during the latest student senate meeting.
Members of the student senate have expressed concerns from their constituents regarding vehicle burglaries on campus. LeBlanc said there have been six vehicle burglaries so far this semester.
“We average about 15-20,000 vehicles (on campus) a day,” LeBlanc said. “That’s a pretty good stat, because most big events and venues have 15 or 20 of them (vehicle burglaries), so we do pretty good for a campus.”
LeBlanc said students could do a better job reporting burglaries.
“We watch trends,” he said. “If we have a specific parking lot — say, the Dee Events Center or the W5 — and there’s vehicle burgs taking place in those parking lots, and we’re not seeing that trend, we tend to focus our patrol efforts on areas where we see problems.”
LeBlanc said the university averages 24 vehicle burglaries a year. One vehicle was stolen this year and later recovered. The recovery led to clearing up three of the six burglaries this semester.
LeBlanc also said the majority of burglaries happen on vehicles that are left unlocked.
“Very seldom do we have a vehicle where the window was smashed out and property was taken,” he said. “It happens, but the majority of them are the vehicles left open.”
LeBlanc urged members of the senate to advise students not to leave valuable items in plain sight in their cars. Students can reduce the risk of break-ins by taking laptops, iPads and other valuable items with them or putting them in inconspicuous places, such as under a seat or in the trunk.
“If you leave something of value in plain sight, you’re inviting a vehicle burglary,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc said campus police can often recover items reported stolen. He said people will try to sell a stolen laptop for far less than what it is worth.
One proposed theft deterrent would be putting cameras in the parking lots, but LeBlanc said the cost is prohibitive. Camera systems are being installed in new buildings on campus.
“The hard part is there’s a bigger need for the buildings than there are for the parking lots,” he said.
In addition to burglaries, there have been seven hit-and-runs this semester, with an average of 30 per year. LeBlanc said hit-and-run accidents occur more often than they are reported.
“A lot of them that occur are very minor damage,” he said. “People don’t feel it’s worth their time to go do it, but we take it very serious.”
LeBlanc said the campus police department sees a high volume of theft and traffic accidents at the beginning of the semester, with a dropoff in the middle of the semester.
“We are on a little bit of what I call a roller-coaster ride here,” he said. “It goes with the school.”
Common items stolen are laptops and other electronic devices.
“The other big trend we see is at the end of semester, and it’s the biggest trend,” LeBlanc said, “and that is your books.”
Books are targeted due to their value in resale at the end of the semester.
The WSU police department employs nine officers, with officers from other jurisdictions assisting at big events such as football and basketball games.
“Our campus is probably one of the safest campuses in the state and definitely across the country,” LeBlanc said.