Is L.A. in the midst of an Instagram crime spree? After a string of stars' home burglaries, a new LAPD task force is grappling with what it characterizes as an extremely sophisticated crime syndicate.
"It's usually a lone individual trying to service their addiction. This is different. This is organized crime," Lt. Todd Hankel of the San Fernando Valley Knock Knock Task Force tells THR.
In recent weeks, the homes of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, Lakers guard Nick Young and singers Nicki Minaj and Alanis Morissette have been hit (a safe stolen from Morissette contained items valued at $2 million).
But this is no sequel to the "Bling Ring" of teens who struck A-listers' homes in 2008 and 2009 (events loosely chronicled in Sofia Coppola's 2013 film satire), says Hankel. Many nonfamous residents have been robbed, and it was only after the task force was set up that these stars were targeted.
Hankel concedes that high-profile targets could inadvertently be aiding the perps. "If you are Instagramming that you are out of the country enjoying the weather in another part of the world, that can help [them]," he notes.
But investigators also have been aided by social media, with an uptick in postings of suspicious characters on the Nextdoor app by neighbors. Says Hankel, "It's getting more attention because of the celebrities involved, which makes people more vigilant."
This story first appeared in the March 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.