“Bling Ring” Charged with Celebrity Burglaries

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Five young adults who have been burglarizing the homes of celebrities have been charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

The teens, who allegedly went on a crime spree that took them to the homes of Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Audrina Partridge and others, have been charged with residential burglary.

Those charged are Diana Tamayo, 19; Alexis Neiers, 18; Ray Lopez Jr., 27; and Courtney Ames, 18. An initial felony complaint also charged Nicholas Prugo with two counts of first-degree residential burglary, and five additional counts of first-degree residential burglary have been added to his charges Another suspect in the celebrity crime caper, Rachel Lee, was arrested last week in Las Vegas, but has yet to be charged.

The crime ring, which has been dubbed by the media the “Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch” and the “Bling Ring” has allegedly stolen over $3 million worth of designer clothes, jewels and accessories from the celebrities, according to Deputy District Attorney Kaarin Axelsen. Partridge’s home, which was broken into on February 23, netted more than $43,000 worth of jewelry and designer clothes. The suspects also allegedly took approximately $128,000 worth of items on August 23.

Police are investigating the possible connection between the suspects and an ex-con and club promotor named Jonathan Ajar, 27. They have served Ajar with a search warrant in order to recover some of the missing items, which they believe Ajar was in the process of selling. Ajar has also been issued a warrant for his arrest on the grounds of selling and possession of firearms and possession and sales of narcotics.

According to Brett Goodkin, an officer from the Los Angeles Police Department, the youngster targeted these celebrities after studying magazines to determine what kind of clothing and jewelry the celebs possessed; they also used the Internet to study satellite maps in order to plot out their entrance into the homes. The burglaries were initially considered to be separate, unrelated incidents, but surveillance videos from Lohan’s and Partridge’s homes showed some similarities, prompting police to look at them as a string of crimes perpetrated by the same person or persons. All of the burglaries took place between December 2008 and early October 2009.

Authorities claim that the ease of researching potential victims on the Internet, as well as a general obsession with celebrities, have led to a quote-unquote perfect storm that has culminated in this case. Said Goodkin, “There’s every indication that these kids dug the idea that they were in celebrities’ homes, and by proxy they were a part of that life now.”

Prugo is scheduled to be arraigned on November 12. Arraignments for the other accused individuals have not yet been scheduled.

 

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