So last week I did 2 featured retail posts, one for BaubleBar and the other for the ID Pop Shop at Chelsea Market. Therefore, this week, I am writing 2 legal posts-reminder of the one posted earlier this week, an Introduction to Laws Affording Protection to Fashion Designers. This post is going to discuss the legal background of the story of the infamous Hollywood Hills burglaries. The reason being is because the recent release of the film, The Bling Ring, which portrays how this whole story allegedly occurred. I wanted to do a post on this topic for my fashion blog because it would allow a bit of a legal analysis to a bit of a different realm versus that of trademark or copyright law. Another reason, is this burglary scheme was a major operation that occurred just recently and a lot of what was being stolen was name brand items from celebrities home. In researching this topic, I have seen that these teenagers believed their victims were fashion icons and the desire to own these major fashion pieces or items. I want to see how the movie conveys that aspect of this tale, but for now, as this is a more legal post, lets look at those facts.
The basic synopsis of this series of cases, is that a group of teenagers in California, burglarized the homes of several celebrities from the end of 2006 until mid-2009. Reports indicate that the total amount of burglarized goods was around $3 million. Over 50 homes were targeted, while much less than that were actually broken into, with Paris Hilton actually being one who was robbed several times. Other victims included Audrina Patridge, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr, Brian Austin Green, Megan Fox, and Lindsay Lohan.
This group was able to mastermind their burglaries with this plan- use of Google Maps to find their targeted homes and uses of the website celebrityaddressaerial.com and determining when the inhabitants would be away by researching their schedules through websites including Facebook and Twitter. Items being taken were a vast array of fashion brand clothing and jewelry. Some of the times it would be with breaking in, such as with Hilton’s home, the door was found to be unlocked. More specific items taken were a Rolex from Bloom and Louis Vuitton luggage from both he and Kerr. So how did arrests and convictions happen?
An anonymous informant tipped off about the Lohan burglary. One of the members of the goup’s face was captured on a surveillance camera. Prugo was the first to be arrested and later confessed with no plea deal struck. He informed the police of future targets and the past crimes. Two weeks later, police obtained search warrants to search the other members of this group’s homes. The other members were then arrested. So here are the members of this group, their involvement, and resulting convictions and information.
Rachel Lee is the alleged ringleader of this group (not in photograph above). She was reported to have had a good upbringing and certainly wasn’t needing to steal clothes. However she likely did due to obsessions with these celebrities, reality TV and wanting to be on the same fashion level as her fashion icons. Lee did end up serving time, but after a little over a year was released on parole. She did make a plea of no contest to the burglaries. Charges of conspiracies to commit burglary and even involvements to other burglaries were dismissed.
Nick Prugo was one of Lee’s best friends, bonding over a love of fashion. Issues of drug addiction were at play with his role in the group and in some of the burglaries. He also pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 2 years in prison, but did not either serve his full sentence.
Alex Neiers-She was reported to have had trouble at home and even lived with Prugo for a short time. She also made a plea for residential burglary and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, additional three years of probation, as well as being ordered to pay $600,000 worth of restitution to Orlando Bloom. She was released after 30 days served and even spent same cell time when alleeged victim Lohan was also serving time!
Diana Tamayo-She also made a plea of no contest and was sentenced to 3 years probation and 60 days of community service.
Roy Lopez, Jr.-He was given three years of probation for also pleading no contest.
Courtney Ames-She was sentenced to three years of probation and two months of community service. Charges against her of conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary and receiving stolen property were dismissed.
Johnny Ajar-initially faced with ten felony charges — six counts possession for sale of a controlled substance, three counts possession of a firearm by a felon and one count possession of ammunition, plead not guilty to all of them. Later, however, he pleaded no contest for selling cocaine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of receiving stolen property. The stolen property charge referred to a Rolex watch owned by Orlando Bloom. Ajar was sentenced to three years in jail. He was released less than a year later.
I make a point to still post on this topic, even though dated because there is a re-visit to its relevancy with the movie release. I will post more on that aspect after I watch it. I do think there was a fashion obsession that drove a lot of this crime and I don’t see differences with other more typical crimes. Counterfeiting is major and in part for those who make because they want to make money. For those who purchase the goods, its that need to want to own the major labels, but not have to pay the major price! There are claims all the time of copying and replication, again because of that desire to be in the fashion industry and make money, but perhaps doing it at a portion of the cost. Fashion and the love of it is laced throughout this major crime spree and I look forward to seeing the tale on the big screen to how all that happened developed.
- The Bling Ring (buzzfeed.com)
- “The Bling Ring” | The Consequences Of Wanting Too Much (modavanti.com)
- The Bling Ring Movie Review (shockya.com)
- Paris Hilton’s Malibu home ransacked of purses and keepsakes as she relives memories of 2008 Bling Ring thefts (dailymail.co.uk)
- Accused burglar arrested for stealing Luis Vuitton wallet, iPad (darientimes.com)
- The Bling Ring delves into the fame-obsessed world of teen celebrity wannabes (samonthebigpicture.wordpress.com)
- Burglars strike at locked home, steal gold, silver (thehindu.com)