SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - More than 400,000 young people are returning to campus at Utah's colleges and universities. Every one of them, is a potential target for criminals.
Welcome to college.
Watch your back, and your back-pack, your bicycle, pocketbook and all your other valuables.
That's the first lesson for more than 30,000 students returning to the University of Utah.
"Because they think that a theft or another type of crime couldn't possibly happen to them,” says Lieutenant Lynn Rohland of the University of Utah Department of Public Safety. “They’re not paying attention the way they should."
Lieutenant Rohland sees it every school year - students, setting themselves up.
"Theft is our biggest crime on campus, and theft is a crime of opportunity."
It was December of 2009. University police busted a theft ring, stealing musical instruments.
What is the common campus criminal looking for?
A bicycle worth hundreds of dollars, parked without a lock.
A backpack with hundreds of dollars of books and valuables, left without someone watching.
A thief’s jackpot - the contents of any student's dorm room or apartment.
"I've been here a year and I haven't had to deal with anything," says sophomore Linsey Vanderlinden.
Vanderlinden may be one of the most careful co-eds on campus. This second-year undergrad wrote the book on student safety, literally. Every freshman student gets, among other thing, a brochure, penned by Linsey, on how to prevent crime.
"We have a freshman survival guide for students so that they are made aware," she says.
This university goes to great lengths to protect its own. Police officers patrol campus around the clock. Security officers back them up. Ninety staffers patrol the dormitories where more than 22,000 students live. No one gets in without passing through two computer-coded locked doors.
And watching over all of the on-campus students like a mother hen is Lindy Nielsen, Assistant Director fro First Year Experience and Student Conduct.
“Living in an on-campus environment is very different from what they're used to,” she says. “So it's always being aware of their surroundings that makes the difference."
Nielsen’s classroom is the U of U campus, where she teaches young people how to make the transition from living under the protection of their parents to being responsible for themselves.
“It's easy for them to assume that they are at a resort,” she says. “That's why we do our best to remind them that they really are in control of their own personal safety."