Police patrols are saturating the Uniondale area, focused on Kellenberg Memorial High School and other schools, after four students were robbed of their cellphones in a single afternoon this week.
In one case, a pack of robbers surrounded the young victim outside the school, police said. In another, a 13-year-old boy resisted and was punched in the face, but no serious injuries have been reported.
"The victims would be surrounded by the subjects, and in a couple of cases the victims had the phones in their hands and the subjects forcibly removed the phone," said Det. Sgt. John Giambrone, head of the Nassau police robbery squad. "They'd say, 'Give me your stuff!' "
Giambrone said patrols have been stepped up and detectives are reviewing other robberies in the area to see whether they're related to a rash of four -- all committed Wednesday afternoon -- targeting cellphone-toting Kellenberg students.
Police on Thursday were investigating a report of another cellphone holdup near Uniondale High School, around the time of dismissal.
The theft of expensive cellphones is on the rise in the New York area and nationally, authorities say. People using the devices in public, including students and straphangers, are most at risk.
Brother Kenneth Hoagland, the Kellenberg principal, is warning students to take precautions. "We just want the students to be as careful as possible when they are in any neighborhood and have their cellphones out," he said.
Police gave this description of the Wednesday robberies:
The first of occurred at 3 p.m. on Anchor Way. A 17-year-old student walking to her car was approached by five to seven males. One of them ripped the iPhone from her hand.
About a half-hour later, two male students, 16 and 17, were walking home when they were approached by a young man at Pembroke Street and Arcadia Avenue. The robber grabbed the 17-year-old's cellphone and iPod Touch and fled with four other men who had been waiting nearby.
Between 3:30 and 4 p.m., an iPhone was stolen from a 12-year-old female student on the school's lacrosse field.
The last robbery occurred at 3:50 p.m. as a 13-year-old boy was walking home on Emerson Street near Hempstead Boulevard. He was approached by two male teenagers, one of whom asked the boy for the time. As the boy checked his cellphone, the robber tried to grab it.
The boy held onto the device but was punched in the eye. When he dropped the phone, the robbers grabbed it and ran away.
Here are some tips for protecting handheld devices.
1. Use passwords
2. Report stolen devices immediately to carrier and police
3. Ask carrier to deactivate both the device and any storage card, known as the SIM card.
4. Wipe out stored data by remote -- sometimes the carrier must do this.
5. Consider insurance that will pay for new device.
6. Buy handheld devices from authorized carriers.
Sources: Verizon, Consumer Federation of America and office of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ellen Yan