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Serial burglar sentenced to 21 years.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

A Springfield man was sentenced Friday to 21 years in prison for breaking into 15 homes and stealing many thousands of dollars' worth of property from Lane County residents earlier this year.

Dustin Joseph Norris, 27, apologized to victims who packed a courtroom in Lane County Circuit Court to tell Judge Valeri Love about how Norris' crimes affected their lives.

Many of those victims mentioned having family keepsakes stolen, while others spoke of having their guns, cars and other valuable property taken from their homes.

But the overall theme of the victims was the loss of something else: a feeling of security in their own homes.

"The sense of violation is horrible," said one man, who says he now packs a pistol while home because he wonders whether someone may return to steal his truck. The vehicle's keys were taken during a burglary that Norris admitted committing.

Norris previously pleaded guilty to 33 burglary and theft charges, along with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Three additional burglary charges are pending.

Lane County Assistant District Attorney Paul Graebner said during the hearing that he could have easily argued for a "de facto life sentence" in the case, given the sheer number of charges and the loss to victims. In court, one of the victims called Norris "a menace to society."

Norris committed the burglaries throughout the Eugene and Springfield areas between January and June, when Springfield police arrested Norris.

Norris' attorney, Janie Mogensen, asked Love to impose a 10-year sentence. She said Norris was raised by abusive, drug-addicted parents and has a drug problem of his own. Mogensen also asked the judge to consider the fact that Norris is a father.

Love responded by saying Norris should have considered his children before he committed the home break-ins. She characterized the 21-year sentence - which Graebner had recommended - as appropriate, and told Norris that his "victims have been through a lot."

Graebner said the vast majority of property stolen by Norris has not been recovered. The list of items includes a cedar chest that one victim, a woman who lives in north Eugene, said in court contained the ashes of her dog. The woman asked Norris to tell her what he did with the chest, but he did not address it in his statement in court.

Graebner has not yet calculated the total loss to victims, but will file a restitution schedule in the coming weeks.

When Norris began his burglary spree, he was on probation in connection with the 2011 kidnapping and assault of a Marcola man who had wrongly been suspected of stealing marijuana. He was one of five men arrested in that case.

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Title Annotation:Lane County Circuit Court; While testifying in court, one of many victims says "the sense of violation is horrible"
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 30, 2017
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