Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus, DJ AM, other celebrities targeted by 'Bling Ring' burglars, documents show
Members of the “bling ring” burglary crew targeted other celebrities beyond the half-dozen people who testified against them before a grand jury, documents filed in a Los Angeles courtroom show.
According to the documents, defendant Nicholas Prugo told a Los Angeles police investigator that he and members of the ring cased the homes of at least 10 celebrities that did not culminate in crimes, the document states.
The crew either knocked on the door or conducted surveillance on the homes of Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff, Spencer Pratt, Channing Tatum, Brittny Gastineau, Jacqueline Bisset and the late DJ AM whose real name was Adam Goldstein, according to the document.
The home of Ashley Tisdale also was the target of a scouting mission in which they knocked on the door. Prugo also said that two of his co-defendants returned to Tisdale's residence. When the women received no answer, one opened the unlocked door. Inside, they were confronted "by an unknown woman." They quickly fled, the document states.
That comes on top of 10 burglaries that the crew is accused of carrying out targeting celebrities in the Hollywood Hills who reported millions of dollars in losses of art, cash, clothes and jewelry.
Those celebrity victims, most of whom provided testimony before a Los Angeles County grand jury, include Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom as well as Megan Fox, Brian Austin Green, Audrina Patridge, Rachel Bilson and Tisdale.
Five defendants--including Prugo, Rachel Lee, Diana Tamayo, Courtney Ames and Roy Lopez -- have been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, burglary and receiving stolen property during the yearlong crime spree.
The ring was largely composed of young women who attended a continuation high school in Agoura Hills and had a taste for the luxury goods and accessories worn by young celebrities.
The group initially targeted wealthy homeowners in communities in western Los Angeles County, investigators said, and then turned its attention to big names, using such websites as Twitter, TMZ.com and celebrityaddressaerial.com to learn the location of stars' homes and figure out their public appearances or travel schedules.
Lee, the reputed ring leader, was involved in all of the crimes, Los Angeles Police Department detectives said. Others are accused of participating in one or more of the burglaries.
One such player was Alexis Neiers, the 18-year-old Calabasas woman who pursued fame on a cable TV reality show and pleaded no contest to a single felony count in connection with a home burglary. She was released from Los Angeles County Jail after serving less than a month of six-month sentence.
Convicted drug dealer Jonathan Ajar, who allegedly helped a "bling ring" sell the stolen items, also is serving time after a no-contest plea in March to several felonies.
But police said members of the ring got careless. Prugo and Lee were captured on surveillance video footage breaking into the homes of Lohan and Patridge.
Shortly afterward, in September 2009, the detectives got a big break in the case when CNN's West Coast security manager informed police that the friend of a fellow CNN employee overheard Prugo and Lee at a party "boasting" that they had committed the burglaries at Patridge's and Lohan's homes earlier in 2009.
The friend, identified as protected witness two, provided links to the alleged burglars' Facebook pages, according to an affidavit filed by LAPD Det. Brett Goodkin seeking to search Prugo's home.
That same month, detectives arrested Prugo, who implicated six other suspects. Prugo, who previously was charged in connection with seven burglaries, provided the LAPD with a detailed statement about the crimes.
Bilson’s home was broken into three times, and "bling ring" members took a television, DVD player and up to $300,000 of Chanel merchandise, according to an LAPD search warrant affidavit.
Suspects got the house keys to Hilton's residence and broke in three times, taking cash and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, police said.
LAPD detectives estimate that the ring got a total of more than $3 million.
-- Andrew Blankstein