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Students on edge after home invasion, sexual assault

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Two Virginia Commonwealth University students used the word “terrified” to describe how they feel following news of a sexual assault during a robbery at a residence in Richmond's Carver neighborhood.

People living on Catherine Street were taking the warning from VCU Police to heart, considering how difficult it was to get people to open their doors Thursday night to ask them about this story.

Catherine Street is well-lit at night, but police said an armed man came through an unlocked door, and then robbed, and sexually assaulted a woman living inside early Thursday morning hours Thursday.

Catherine Street

Catherine Street

"It makes me feel uneasy,” Heidi Akello, a VCU junior, said. “I mean, it's right here. It could happen to anybody."

Neighbors said these type of violent crimes are becoming too common.

In fact, nearly a year ago, on Feb. 18, a pregnant woman was repeatedly raped by a gunman who made his way into her home on North First Street.

The crime remains unsolved.

Then Tuesday morning, a woman living on West Clay Street came home to find a man wearing a ski mask inside her home. He took off running.

Police said there is no evidence that any of these crimes are connected, but said they cannot rule it out either.

Kayla Lhuillier

Kayla Lhuillier

"They should be out here guarding this place and patrolling a lot more." Kayla Lhuillier, who is a cheerleader at VCU.

Police said they have increased patrols but are asking residents to do their part, too. Officers warn neighbors to keep their doors locked, set alarms if they have them, and always report suspicious activity even if folks think it may be insignificant.

"We have our ADT alarm set when we are away, and when we are here,” said Lhuillier. “This is getting scary."

Crime Insider sources told Jon Burkett several residents have surveillance video on Catherine Street and police are in the process of reviewing that footage.