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Suspect in series of break-ins at Oakwood apartments arrested

July 20, 2009 |  5:09 pm

A parolee from South Los Angeles has been arrested in connection with a series of "hot prowl" break-ins and home-invasion robberies at the Oakwood apartments on Barham Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles police said Monday.

Norris Denton, 27, of Los Angeles and an unidentified 17-year-old accomplice were arrested Saturday afternoon in connection with at least seven crimes that were reported over the last month at the housing complex, which is near Universal and Warner Bros. studios, said LAPD Lt. Alan Hamilton.

The suspects allegedly pulled a gun on a man who was on his way to the laundry room and forced him back into his apartment.  They ransacked the apartment, taking cash and other possessions, and repeatedly beat him, Hamilton said.

The suspects fled and discarded a semi-automatic handgun, which police later recovered. Denton was captured after attempting to carjack a motorist to get away from police, Hamilton said.

Oakwood is a temporary housing village frequented by people in the entertainment business, from executives to child actors and their families.

Denton targeted the complex seven times over the last month, police said. In two cases, victims were severely beaten, Hamilton said. In some instances, victims discovered the suspects in their apartment, having entered through an unlocked door or open window.

Denton, who has previous convictions for burglary and car theft, could face a third strike, bringing with it a life sentence, police said.

A resident who lives at the complex but did not want to be identified because of fears for her safety said more should have been done to warn residents about crime there.

The management "sent out  a letter mentioning robbery by force, telling us to beware of our surroundings and to notify security about anything suspicious," the woman said. "Yet this Saturday, when a neighbor heard a man screaming, 'He's going to kill me. Help, call police,' and security was called, the response was 'you have to call the police.'

"We feel terrorized," she said.

-- Andrew Blankstein

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