ST. PAUL, Minn. - Campus and city police forces say they're stepping up patrols and security steps around Twin Cities-area colleges in the wake of a series of brash crimes.

Several law enforcement officials told a Minnesota Senate panel on Tuesday that they're elevating their presence to try to ward off crime. Reports of sexual assaults and armed robberies have put students, staff and others on edge, particularly near the University of Minnesota's flagship campus.

"The safety of students, faculty and staff remains the highest priority at the U," Pamela Wheelock, Vice President of University Services at the University of Minnesota. "We deeply share the public's concern about safety and are seeking continued collaboration with our Minneapolis and other public safety partners."

Authorities have more readily used special alert systems to warn of crime trends. They've also been advising students to be more cognizant of their surroundings.

"We want students and their parents to hear directly from the law enforcement agencies working tirelessly to protect them everyday," said Senator Terri Bonoff, Chair. "I am proud of the students that voiced their concerns about recent crimes around Metro area campuses. We are grateful to those who serve to protect. We must put forward a coordinated effort."

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says that students are being targeted by thieves because they are often carrying laptops and have phones out in the open.

No specific legislation was discussed.