Residents in one Harbor City apartment complex have been double-checking that their doors and windows are locked before they go to sleep after a so-called "hot prowler" robbed at least nine apartments there since April.
The thefts happened at the Summer Glen Apartments on Western Avenue near Sepulveda Boulevard, according to police.
The thief, caught on surveillance cameras, has been getting into apartments through windows or doors left open by residents, possibly in an attempt to find relief from the warm weather.
The burglar is striking between the hours of 4:30 and 6 a.m., and in most cases the residents have been home asleep.
"The possibility that a violent confrontation can happen increases drastically when the people are home and the burglar breaks into the location," said Detective Don Eldridge of the Los Angeles Police Department Harbor Division.
In the most recent break-in -- just a few weeks ago -- the thief exchanged words with the residents.
"My oldest brother came out of the room," said a woman who wanted to be identified only as Marilen. "(My brother) was like, 'What do you want?' I heard a voice that said, 'All I needed was bus money.'"
The crimes began in April and then stopped for a few months but recently started up again, according the complex property manager.
The apartment complex is normally a quiet and safe place, according to most residents who talked with NBC4. Even still, residents are keeping a closer eye on their doors and windows overnight.
"I leave my door open when I go to sleep," said Brian Elmonte, a resident who has lived at the Summer Glen apartment complex for two years. "But I sleep right next to it. So if he wants to come in, he's going to have to step over me, and it’s not that easy."
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