A gang of burglars targeting the homes of celebrities in Los Angeles has been dubbed the new “bling ring” by the press.
The reference is to a criminal gang with a nearly identical M.O.: to target rich celebrities and snatch their valuables, jewelry in particular.
The original Bling Ring operated from 2008 to 2009, going on a crime spree that netted the thieves almost $3 million in valuables. Originally from the suburbs of Calabasas, Calif., the group of seven went after celebs like Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan.
What drove them to do it was not just the money, which can be plentiful in the burglary business, but to emulate the lavish lifestyles of the stars they at once admired and targeted. The group was ultimately turned in by acquaintances they had bragged to. Prison sentences were handed down, with one member serving up to three years.
This new bling ring doesn’t seem to have the same desire for celebrity status, just cash. The burglars have hit dog whisperer Cesar Millan, taking hundreds of thousands in jewelry. Likewise from retired Laker and former Knicks coach Derek Fisher, including five championship rings. Male model Fabio came home one day to a broken window and a missing safe that was laden with watches and gold.
Between February and September of this year, Nicki Minaj, Jaime Pressly, former Laker Nick Young, Amber Rose, Hilary Duff, Emmy Rossum, David Spade, and singer Jason Derulo were all burglarized. Rapper A$AP Rocky lost $1.5 million in jewels from his Beverly Grove Home. Alanis Morissette lost $2 million in vintage jewels.
The members of this incarnation of the bling ring “do not care about Instagram, or which celebs are hot. They don’t know who they’re robbing. They mostly target the biggest houses. They’re only in it for the money. … It’s a way to fund gangs,” said L.A. Sheriff’s Department Det. Sgt. Mike Maher in an interview with the New York Post.
Authorities speculate an affiliate of the Crips, called the Rollin’ 30s, could be involved. But until more is known, police aren’t ruling out that the ring could even be made up of rival gangs cooperating. “They can be Asians, whites, Hispanics, or black. Members of rival gangs even work together during the day, then go back to being mortal enemies,” said Maher.
Police note that the thieves are being especially mindful when choosing their targets. They’ll drive through neighborhoods for days, logging when the homeowners come and go and if they have any staff or guard dogs.
Once a residence is fully cased, they strike at the best time: on a weekday when nobody’s home. This is the case in almost all of the celebrity break-ins.
Authorities also noticed that the thieves were smart enough to avoid taking designer pieces that could easily be traced. When singer Mariah Carey was burglarized, the gang made off with $50,000 in designer handbags and sunglasses; they left custom jewelry untouched.
Jen Atkin, celebrity hairstylist to stars like Kim Kardashian, posted footage of her home being burglarized last month on Snapchat, narrating the crime as it happened live.
Given how spread out Los Angeles is, police response time is especially slow when it comes to burglaries. Thieves can be in and out of a home within five minutes while police are still en route.
The bling ring remains at large.
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