Hofstra University has increased security and implored students to be careful after a group of machete-wielding people robbed students off-campus on three separate occasions, police and university officials said.
From Sept. 3 to 6, four women and one man were robbed of items that included purses, cell phones and cameras, Nassau police said.
Karla Schuster, assistant vice president of university relations, said the university has increased patrols by its campus police force.
In addition, residence hall directors have held meetings with students to talk about the robberies and emphasize ways students could keep themselves safe, like walking in groups at night or in well-lit areas, she said.
At 1:20 a.m. Sept. 3, two 20-year-old women were ambushed as they walked near the intersection of Front Street and Broadfield Road. Their purses, a camera and a cell phone were stolen, Nassau police said. Less than two hours later, on Fairview Boulevard, the masked, machete-wielding men held up another 20-year-old woman and her 21-year-old male companion, taking cash and a cell phone, police said.
And on Monday at 11:30 p.m., the robbers mugged a 21-year-old woman for her handbag, which contained a cell phone, as she walked near Hamilton Road and Rodgers Street, police said.
No one was injured.
Nassau police and the Hofstra University Department of Public Safety are investigating. No arrests have been made.
"Some people walk alone during the night - you are just asking for trouble," said Kelly Lutz, 20, a junior from the Baltimore area. The robberies have made Lutz more alert when she goes out after dark, she said. "I've always felt safe here," Lutz said.
Schuster said the unarmed university police officers who work overnight are available to help protect students as they travel from off-campus back to campus, and a specially trained student escort service also can accompany students as they travel on campus late at night.
"We are reminding people that we have these things available," Schuster said.
Most students outside the university student center on Friday said the university is a safe place and they tried not to walk alone on or off-campus at night.
"I feel unsafe with what is happening," said Michelle Bandell, 18, of Baltimore, "but I don't feel scared on-campus."
Ludnie Faustin, 20, a junior from Brooklyn, said she sometimes walked to and from the library late at night and would continue doing so. She said the campus was large and needed more emergency call boxes.
"I just realized how unsafe it is," she said. "This campus is so big, and so open."
Schuster said there are 48 call boxes on-campus. She said that the university did not have immediate plans to increase the number of call boxes.
There were no robberies off-campus in 2008, but 10 occurred on campus, according to the university's campus safety report.