Going for the Bling

THE gang’s nickname is still up for grabs.

Four teenage girls and two men suspected of stealing jewelry and clothing from the homes of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and other celebrities have been tagged with a few tantalizing names since their purported crime spree came to light. “The Burglar Bunch,” trumpeted TMZ. “The Bling Ring,” rhymed The Los Angeles Times. The “Hollywood Hills Burglars,” said the Los Angeles police.


The group, most 18 and 19 years old, used celebrity Web sites, according to investigators, to figure out when their victims — a roster of young Hollywood that also includes Rachel Bilson of “The O.C.,” Ashley Tisdale of “High School Musical” fame and Audrina Patridge of “The Hills”— would be attending premieres and other events and would therefore not be home.

In the stars’ homes, burglars helped themselves to Rolex watches, Louis Vuitton bags and other baubles featured in celebrity magazines, authorities say.


Six accused members of the ring have been charged with residential burglary and other crimes, including one, Alexis Neiers, who was arrested on the set of a reality show pilot she is filming for E! with her sister Tess Taylor, a Playboy model.

Rich enough for you?

The tale lies at the intersection of celebrity, teen culture, reality TV and the Internet. It doesn’t hurt the chances of the — let’s go with “Bling Ring” — becoming the subject of a movie that the teenagers “look like the cast of ‘Twilight,’ ” as one Hollywood lawyer put it.

The six who have been charged are Nicholas Prugo, 19; Diana Tamayo, 19; Courtney Ames, 19; Ms. Neiers, 18; Roy Lopez Jr., 27, a bouncer; and Jonathan Ajar, 28, nightclub promoter. Mr. Ajar faces related drug and weapons charges but has not been charged with burglary.

Another teenager, who police in Los Angeles have said is the ringleader, Rachel Lee, 18, was arrested in Las Vegas and is expected to be charged soon, said Detective Brett Goodkin of the Los Angeles Police Department, the lead investigator in the case.

A search of Ms. Lee’s father’s home in Las Vegas turned up over $20,000, designer jeans and photos of Ms. Hilton, Detective Goodkin said.

Mr. Ajar has pleaded not guilty. The others, whose arraignments are expected in the next few weeks, have not yet entered pleas.

Most of the teenagers knew one another from Calabasas, Calif., an affluent suburb of rolling foothills in the western San Fernando Valley. Although it is more rural than the Hollywood Hills, some 30 minutes away, where many of the celebrity victims live, Calabasas has its share of stars: Will Smith and Kourtney Kardashian from the reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

Celebrities — and a celebrity lifestyle — are close enough to reach out and touch, even more so thanks to gossip Web sites that track the nightly antics of young celebutants, and reality shows like “The Hills” that portray beautiful young people, seemingly just like you, living large.

“Young people see a lifestyle on television and have peer pressure and constant bombardment from media to have what other people have, to want what other people want and to try to live the dream,” said Jason Peirce, the host of “Calabasas Teen Forum,” a local cable television program. Police say that some of the stolen bling was fenced for cash, while other items were kept as trophies. Friends of the accused say they wore the stylish clothes and Rolex watches belonging to the stars. In the case of Ms. Hilton’s home, they returned three or four times, authorities said.

The Bling Ring is not a reality show. It is reality, with a wide-ranging cast of characters.

Ms. Lee and Mr. Prugo were classmates at a remedial high school, Indian Hills, to which they transferred because of truancy issues at Calabasas High School, friends said. Ms. Lee, who drove a white Audi A4, was named “best dressed” in the 2007 Indian Hills yearbook. “She dressed very trendy, things like what celebrities wore,” recalled Dani Ley, a classmate. “Everyone would be in jeans and shorts. She would come in fancy jean skirts and fancy tops.”

Friends said that Ms. Lee had trouble at home. Her mother, who had been single for many years, started a relationship that displeased her, said one longtime friend of Ms. Lee’s, who asked that her name not be used to avoid retribution from the Bling Ring. “That’s when she started having problems with her mom,” the friend said.

Ms. Lee’s small house near the high school was sometimes a hangout, where Mr. Prugo, Ms. Ames and others from Indian Hills could be found “having a kickback,” said the friend.

Taken from http://antiquedress.blogspot.com/
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