Recent rapes in Utah County have caused some alarm among area residents, but police records show that the number of reported rapes annually has not increased overall the past few years.
Reports of rape continue to climb every year as population grows, but the recent number of rapes in Orem is typical and is even down from 1987 figures, he said."We tend to panic and say, `Look at all the rapes,' when in reality there are not any more than we have had over the last little while," Orem Public Safety Spokesman Gerald Nielsen said.
Orem averages about six rapes a year. There were five in 1983, six in 1984, seven in 1985, two in 1986 and 10 in 1987. The department reported three rapes in 1988.
Sande Krieger, records supervisor for the Provo Police Department said the department had 18 reported rapes in 1988. That averages to about 1.5 rapes a month. Orem, on the other hand, averaged about one every four months.
In 1988, Nielsen said, Orem actually had eight rape reports, but five were unfounded. Sometimes a consensual sexual encounter is reported as rape because one of the partners may feel guilty afterwards, he said.
Steve Anderson with the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation field services said that during 1987, rapes for all jurisdictions in Utah County totaled 38. In Salt Lake County, rapes totaled 198 and in Davis County 25.
Total rapes for 1988 were unavailable, but during the first nine months, 35 rapes were reported in Utah County, 133 in Salt Lake County (no reports from West Valley Police) and 37 in Davis County. The numbers reflect a slight increase over 1987's nine-month totals. There were 21 in Utah County, 168 in Salt Lake County and 12 in Davis County.
Provo's last reported rape occurred Jan. 2 at an apartment complex south of Brigham Young University. The victim was a 24-year-old BYU student. A similar rape was reported several months earlier at another off-campus housing unit.
BYU Spokesman Paul Richards said the BYU off-campus housing office makes it mandatory for apartment owners to have dead bolt locks installed in off-campus housing. But many students do not take measures to secure their apartments.
"We have found that the majority of intruders go in an unlocked door or window," BYU Police Chief Robert Kelshaw said.
Nielsen said there are many easy ways to secure a window with a board or a stick. "Any police department will show you how to do it inexpensively. In five minutes you can make your home safer."
Kelshaw said there have never been any reports of rape in on-campus dormitories, although some sex-related crimes for indecent exposure and sexual assault have been reported.
"Sex-related crimes are one of the least reported crimes," Kelshaw said. "The victim is afraid of embarrassment or of ongoing retaliation."
According to Nielsen, not many attackers break into homes in Orem.
One of the more common causes of rape in Orem occurs when a woman goes to a party and becomes involved with someone she doesn't know. The man takes her home, she invites him in and he rapes her.
Another common situation occurs when a woman leaves work late at night and has to walk through a dark parking lot to get to her car. Shopping late at night and coming out to a dark parking lot is also dangerous.
Many times victims are not on their guard when the assailant walks up to them and threatens them. Nielsen said jogging alone on a dark street and taking short cuts through parks should be avoided.
Two similar incidents have been reported in the past month in Orem and Provo. Women were forced to get in a car and then were taken to a vacant apartment or residence. One woman was in the parking lot of the University Mall and the other was jogging. In both instances, the suspect attempted to rape both women.
"There are some definite things that can be done to prevent rape," Nielsen said. "When it gets dark, I believe employers have an obligation to make sure employees get to their car safely. After shopping, I would encourage women to take a look across the parking lot to see if anything is out of line."
He said it's a good idea to wait for another customer to leave the store or ask an employee or manager for assistance.
"I don't believe any store in the valley would refuse that service. Get your key ready and always have your car locked."
While driving alone, lock the car and roll up the windows. Jog on busy streets or with someone else.
"You don't have to be suspicious of everything you do. I think you do have to be reasonably safe," Nielsen said. "You may take precautions a thousand times over the years, but those few seconds are so much better than the thousands of heartaches rape brings."
Jan. 0 0
Feb. 0 0
March 1 1
April 2 1
May 1 0
June 3 0
July 2 0
Aug. 4 0
Sept. 2 0
Oct. 0 0
Nov. 1 1
Dec. 2 0
Total 18 3