The Suspects Wore Louboutins
One of the most fascinating (and often forgotten) stories was the 2008, Bling Ring robbery gang. A group of valley kids obsessed with fame and money who broke into celebrity homes and robbed them. The teens stole more than $3 million in clothing and jewellery. The stars they targeted included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and more.
Their crimes were the subject of the 2013 film ‘The Bling Ring’.
The Bling Ring aka Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch – consisted of leader Rachel Lee, Nick Prugo, Alexis Neiers, Diana Tamayo, Courtney Ames, Johnny Ajar, Roy Lopez, Jr – all teenagers and young adults at the time.
Prugo and Lee—both 19 at the time and former classmates at Indian Hills, an alternative high school in Agoura Hills, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles—had started burglarizing the homes of celebrities.
Back in 2008, at the start of social media (and apparently a time when celebrities were more trusting) Nick and Rachel, two teens obsessed with fame, money and the LA lifestyle – scoured the social media sites to work out where their favourite celebrities were.
If the celebrity target was out of town, they scoured sites like TMZ to look at jewellery, clothes and designer gear to look out for on the hiest. Using Google Maps and the site celebrityaddressaerial.com they would work out their route to the celebrity mansion. Then strike.
The Bling Ring
The thieves apparently had a taste for luxury brands: Chanel, Gucci, Tiffany, Cartier, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent. They allegedly stole clothes, shoes, handbags, makeup, perfume, underwear. They also took Green’s Sig Sauer .380 semi-automatic handgun.
Paris Hilton in 2008 was the epitome of celebrity. Much of the gang’s stolen property came from Paris Hilton’s house, because, they simply believed she was ‘dumb’ enough to leave a key under her doormat. She had. But it turned out they didn’t even need the key as the door was unlocked.
Nick Prugo claims that he and Rachel Lee asked themselves, “Who would leave a door unlocked? Who would leave a lot of money lying around?”
On their first trip, Nick and Rachel went alone. They climbed up a hill to gain access to her community, they even rang the doorbell. Once inside, Nick served as a lookout near the stairs whilst Rachel went to Paris’ bedroom.
The Bling Ring gang had a simple, yet effective plan. Steal small and little and go back many times. And for a while, it worked. They burglarized Paris Hilton’s home five times before she noticed. And she only realised because another member of the gang, Lopez, got greedy and single-handedly stole nearly $2 million in jewellery, clothing, cash and other items.
But the fame-obsessed valley kids also lived up to their title. Whilst in Hilton’s home they snorted cocaine they say they found inside the residence, took pictures and partied.
More unlocked doors
Once Paris clocked on, the gang had to find a new target. In February 2009 – on the night of the Oscars – the gang burglarised Audrina Patridge. Her home was also easy to access, entering her Hollywood Hills home via an unlocked door, the gang stole jewellery, her passport (!!!), her laptop, and custom-fit jeans. It’s estimated they stole roughly around $43,000 worth of goods. Unlike the Paris Hilton trips, the gang were caught on surveillance footage which was later uploaded to Partridge’s website. Despite this, the gang continued to steal from the famous.
OC- teen idol of the time, Rachel Bilson (Summer Roberts forever) was the next target of the group. Over April and May 2009, the gang broke in three to six times, amounting to between $130,0000 and $300,000 of stolen property.
Nick has always said he was nervous during the burglaries, whilst his best pal Rachel was always very calm and focused. Though many have criticised the portrayal of Nick in the media, saying he was not a shy young man led astray by Rachel – but instead was very much a leader of the group and a bully.
By the time they had finished stealing from Bilson, the gang had so much stuff – clothes and accessories – they took them to the Venice Beach boardwalk to sell them. They made no more than a few thousand dollars.
Orlando Bloom and his collection of vintage Rolexes
Orland Bloom’s home was targetted by the Ring on July 13, 2009, because Rachel wanted the lingerie of Orlando’s then-live-in partner Miranda Kerr.
Nick, Rachel, Alexis and Diana made entry to the property via cutting a hole in the security fence. They stole a large amount of high-end clothing, Orlando’s vintage Rolex watch collection, Louis Vuitton luggage, and actual artwork off the walls. All of these totalling nearly half a million dollars.
Alexis (who claims this was her only burglary) denies having gone there knowingly and was high on heroin at the time. She was reported as having gone outside to vomit and then urinate in the bushes. Alexis was at the time a reality TV star with her own show at the time.
Rachel and Diana went back inside because Rachel was planning to move to her father’s home in Las Vegas and wanted Bloom’s art to decorate her room.
Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox
According to Nick, actress Meghan Fox and her then partner Brian Austin Green was targeted next because Rachel liked Meghan Fox’s wardrobe. It was during this burglary the group found a semi-automatic gun, which police later found.
Teen starlet Lindsay Lohan
By August 2009, Rachel had moved to Las Vegas to live with her father. But her desire to steal from the rich and famous brought her back to California for yet another burglary, with teen-starlet/paparazzi icon Lindsay Lohan the target.
Rachel was completely obsessed with Lohan and was apparently her “ultimate fashion icon” and “biggest conquest.”
Rachel, Nick and Diana allegedly stole around $130,000 worth of clothes and jewellery from Lohan’s Hollywood Hills home. Nick later said Rachael and Diana were “freaking out” over Lohan’s things.
By the time of the Lohan burglary, the Bling Ring were well-publicised criminals at large.
The Ring Gets caught
club-hopping Valley kids, motivated by vanity and celebrity-worship
The gang were described as being motivated by ‘vanity and celebrity-worship’ and whilst their plan was simple, it was effective. Even when caught on camera it was impossible to identify who they were (they often walked to the property door backwards so their faces weren’t captured).
But the plan fell apart because, reportedly, the gang couldn’t keep quiet. It’s reported they bragged all over town, wore their stolen goods and often uploaded pictures on social media.
All their bragging led to a tipster directing police to Rachel and Lee. With the lead, police started looking through Facebook and then Nick was arrested. He initially denied everything, but anxiety got to him, stopping him from eating, sleeping, breathing properly and caused hair loss.
Nick quickly – without securing a plea deal – spilt the beans and told cops about crimes they didn’t even know had been committed. He also told them about other targets being researched by the Ring – Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Hilary Duff and Vanessa Hudgens.
Two weeks after Nick confessed all (almost), search warrants went out for the rest of the gang. Rachel, Diana, Alexis, Courtney and Roy were arrested. Rachel calmly asked hypothetical questions about how it might help her if she had info and shared it with the police. The police report says Rachel clearly believed she had removed all incriminating evidence from her home. But police found a coat belonging to Lindsay Lohan, topless pictures of Paris Hilton that she had stolen from Hilton’s home and more than $20,000 in $100 bills.
According to Vanity Fair, Rachel was charged with residential burglary for Lohan, Hilton and Patridge heists. At the time of the arrests, it was unclear if Bilson’s and other burglaries of Kourtney Kardashian and Hayden Panettiere had been committed by the Ring.
During the house searches, police seized three guns, drugs and a laptop that had 51 aerial pictures of Hollywood Hills homes, inside Johnny Ajar’s home. He was charged with additional offences related to weapons and drug possession. Rachel Lee was charged with three counts of residential burglary, Nick Prugo was charged with seven. All members initially pleaded not guilty.
What happened to the Bling Ring
Having pleaded no contest to the burglaries of Patridge and Lohan, Nicholas Prugo was sentenced on April 15, 2013, to two years in prison. He received credit for a year of time already served and was further credited with a year for good behaviour and work time.
Rachel Lee was sentenced on October 26, 2011. She had pleaded no contest to the burglary of over $25,000 worth of valuables from the home of Audrina Patridge. Lee was sentenced to four years in prison. After serving 1 year and 4 months, she was released on parole.
On April 15, 2010, Johnny Ajar was sentenced to three years in jail. He was released less than a year later, in March 2011.
Alexis Neiers agreed to plead no contest to residential burglary and was sentenced on May 10, 2010, to a jail term of 180 days, with an additional three years of probation, as well as being ordered to pay $600,000 worth of restitution. She was released after 30 days.
On October 19, 2012, after pleading no contest to having burgled Lindsay Lohan’s house, Diana Tamayo was sentenced to three years of probation, as well as 60 days of community service.
Roy Lopez Jr. was sentenced on November 8, 2012, after pleading no contest to stealing over $2 million of jewellery from Paris Hilton. He was given three years of probation and credited for 100 days he had already served in jail
Courtney Ames was sentenced on December 14, 2012, to three years of probation and two months of community service.
rachel lee bling ring
The accused ringleader did her first-ever interview in 2018 (ten years after the crimes).
the bling ring full movie
The Bling Ring movie is available on Youtube, Amazon Prime and Google Play.