MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A string of armed robberies near the University of Minnesota has police urging students to pay close attention to their surroundings, especially in the nearby neighborhoods of Dinkytown and Marcy Holmes.

U of M police issued a crime alert on Monday, describing two robberies that took place close to campus over the weekend.

Investigators said they appear to be similar to four other robberies that happened in the past month — those were also close to the U. Some of the victims are students and some aren’t.

Authorities believe the crimes may be related, as purses and phones were stolen at gunpoint, and in some cases victims were also assaulted.

“The troubling part is that they all involved the display of a handgun,”  said. “Oftentimes it’s deceptions — they ask to borrow your phone, and then not give it back.”

On Sept. 12 at 11th Avenue Southeast and 7th Street, a student and a friend were surrounded by a group of young men. One of the suspects pointed a gun and took off with a purse that had an iPhone in it.

And then on Saturday night, near the intersection of 5th Avenue and 7th Street, a student and a friend were robbed by two men. In this case, one of the victims did not immediately give up her purse. Police said that’s when the gunman hit her.

“I would recommend that you not challenge someone who is pointing a gun at you,” Hestness said. “Giving up your property is not popular. But that’s your best bet of personal safety.”

Alexa Lapatka is a graduate student who lives off campus, and after parking he walks to class.

She grew up in Spicer, Minn., and says she knows she has to be more vigilant here.

“Where I am from, you don’t have to lock your doors,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about anyone stealing anything. Everyone knows each other. It is a big difference. I would never be worried walking alone at night at home.”

The chief said his department is working on a strategy to deal with the recent string of armed robberies and they are increasing their patrols.