Unlike many other big-city campuses, the University of Utah is a relatively safe place to pursue an education, its public safety director says.

A survey of American four-year colleges offering residential facilities cited rapes, knifings and murder as increasing on campus, with more students involved as victims.But serious crime is not a big problem at Utah, said U. Police Chief Wayne Shepherd.

The university has had no homicides, and during 1989 and 1990 only one rape was reported on campus. Shepherd said he believes rapes occur more often but suspects victims do not report more sexual assaults and rapes because of a lack of adequate programs to assist them through the reporting, counseling and legal processes.

The majority of campus crimes are thefts and burglaries committed by teens who prey on unattended cars in huge parking lots. Except for minor possession-of-alcohol incidents, 80 percent of campus crimes are not committed by staff, students or faculty members.

Secondary offenses on campus, such as DUIs, forgeries and criminal mischief, increased from 754 in 1989 to 1,664 in 1990.

"Compared to other colleges and universities in Utah, we look good when you look at a city our size," Shepherd said.

"Cooperation is the key to safety on campus," he said. "I think the reason we enjoy a low crime rate is the cooperation between our police department and students, staff and faculty."

U. police escort people across campus nightly upon request, jump-start stalled cars and unlock 180 or more car doors every month. Both the public and police benefit when officers have to spend only 5 to 10 percent of their time making arrests, Shepherd said.

"I've always believed if you provide high-quality service you get more community cooperation and more crimes reported."