Monday, February 08, 2010

The Bling Ring Gang - rich brats gone bad

It reads like a Scott Fitzgerald novella – the antics of the Bling Ring Gang.

A group of teenagers has been burglarizing the homes of Hollywood celebrities. Victims included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, and Orlando Bloom. The loot included more than $3 million in designer clothing and jewelry, including shoes, handbags, makeup, perfume, and underwear from designer labels Chanel, Gucci, Tiffany, Cartier, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, and Yves Saint Laurent.

They made sure that their victims were not at home, using information from celebrity websites such as TMZ. The exact locations of the stars’ homes were found on Google Maps and

They were caught in November 2009 after CCTV footage from a break-in at Lindsay Lohan's home was made public. Police followed up on received information from someone who said she overheard Lee and Prugo bragging of their exploits at a party. Cops then used Facebook to ascertain that Lee and Prugo were indeed “friends” with each other. Hurray for social networks!

Their first victim was socialite Paris Hilton – according to gang member Nick Prugo because they considered her 'dumb'. They found that she left the front door key of her 7,000sq ft Hollywood Hills home under a doormat, so it seems that they were right on the money. Hilton didn't realize she had been robbed until two months later when another raid on the house netted the thieves close to $2 million worth of jewelry and other valuables stuffed in one of her Louis Vuitton tote bags.

In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Prugo also claimed that they found five grams of cocaine in the house which they also took. (Dawn Miller, a spokesperson for Paris Hilton promptly denied there were drugs in her home, stating “I don't know why anyone would listen to allegations made by a self-confessed thief.”)

According to prosecutors in Los Angeles, the gang was obsessed with the celebrities. Some of the stolen items were sold for cash, while other items were kept as trophies. Prugo blamed peer pressure for the raids during his appearance on U.S. TV show Good Morning America. The bad kid on the affluent block went on saying: 'There was a definite thrill to it. I don't think any of us realized how severe it was until we actually got caught. It didn't seem as bad as it was. Now that I look back I realize how serious it was. Looking back, it scares me to death.'
Mmmm, I think pretty boy realized what prison would do to him (if you get my drift).

Prugo is facing up to six years in jail on each of the burglary charges. He apologized to his victims while denying the charges. Obviously, the kid is no legal eagle in the making.

But in a delicious “cherchez la femme” twist, it seems that 18-year old Rachel Lee was the brains behind the heists, being obsessed with the fashion of the celebrities and wanting to wear what they wore. Other gang members were Courtney Ames and Alexis Neiers, both 18, Diana Tamayo, 19, and Roy Lopez Jr, a 27-year old nightclub bouncer. Their “fence” was Jonathan Ajar a.k.a. “Johnny Dangerous,” a thuggish ex-con and promoter at Les Deux who would allegedly get Prugo and his under-age friends into the club. The cast of characters couldn’t be more colorful. Courtney Ames is the girlfriend of Ajar. Her stepfather is famed welterweight Randy Shields. Alexis Neiers has her own reality show on E! entertainment. Diana Tamayo is an illegal Mexican immigrant as well as president of the class of 2008 at Indian Hills High School in Agoura Hills, California.

What made those rich brats turn to crime? Boredom? Since Scott Fitzgerald is not around to use them as inspiration, I am pretty sure that several TV movies will be made. Hopefully Ms. Neiers will serve some serious time and will not be able to act in one. Let's hope that being white and rich doesn't translate into a slap on the wrist. With prisons being overpopulated, these crime junkies will quite likely only spend a few months in jail....