‘The Bling Ring’ Case Revealed: The Stars’ Grand-Jury Testimony
Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, in theaters Friday, follows a clique of privileged Los Angeles teens who rob the homes of unsuspecting celebrities. The film is based on a true story, documented in Nancy Jo Sales’s Vanity Fair feature “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” published in March 2010, and much of the film’s dialogue is lifted directly from court documents and police reports.
The real-life burglary group, which included alleged ringleader Rachel Lee, Nick Prugo, Alexis Neiers, Diana Tamayo, Courtney Ames, and Roy Lopez Jr., stole an estimated $3 million-plus in luxury items ranging from jewelry to a handgun from the celebs’ homes, and reportedly used Google Maps, TMZ, and the website celebrityaddressaerial.com to scout the locations. According to police, they would also track their targets via social media and media reports to see when they were out of town. The burglaries allegedly occurred from October 2008 through August 2009.
The Bling Ring’s celeb victims included Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr, Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox, and Lindsay Lohan.
The Daily Beast has obtained the entire 724-page grand-jury indictment containing each of the group’s celebrity victims’ grand-jury testimonies. Here is what happened to each targeted celebrity, according to his or her sworn testimony taken on June 18 and June 21, 2010, in front of the Los Angeles County Grand Jury, in the order in which they testified.
According to the grand-jury testimony of Rachel Bilson, the film and television actress best known for portraying Summer Roberts on Fox’s The O.C., she was out of town when her home was burglarized in May 2009 and was notified by her mother. “Immediately my reaction was, I was crying and, you know, a little horrified,” said Bilson, adding, “it’s really a feeling of violation and invasiveness.” When she came home to survey the house, she observed that “everything was out on the floor, drawers were pulled out … everything was in disarray.” Among the missing items were “higher-end shoes, purses, clothing,” and “a whole cabinet of [DVD] movies,” as well as some “irreplaceable things,” like “some of my grandmother’s jewelry, and my mom’s engagement ring she had set for me when I turned 16,” she said.
The burglars were able to enter Bilson’s home easily because the alarm, she said, “wasn’t set at the time of the burglary.”
“Well, my mom checks on my house when I’m out of town, and we have always sort of lived a very, I guess, trusting lifestyle, and we just didn’t set the alarm,” Bilson said. “We now do, or I now do, every time I leave the house, even if it’s for twenty minutes.”
She continued: “It took me a while to feel comfortable staying there. I wouldn’t sleep in my bedroom for about a month. I would stay in—there is a downstairs room. And I was convinced that I needed to sell my house and get out of there, because I was very scared. But I’m still there now.”
“Gosh, it was on Oscar night,” said Patridge, star of the MTV reality series The Hills. The time was the early morning hours of February 23, and Patridge was out of town but arrived “twenty minutes after they had left my house,” according to her sworn testimony. When she returned to her residence, she observed two lines in the carpet from her luggage being rolled out of her bedroom, which raised her suspicions.
“And then I looked in my jewelry box, everything was gone, wiped out,” said Patridge. “Everything. And then I started noticing all my sunglasses were gone, purses, jeans. It was like someone went shopping in my room. My passport was gone. My laptop. Everything. So I locked myself in the closet. And I was still on the phone with my sister and I was afraid to hang up, because I didn’t know if someone was still in the house or, you know. I just wanted to be safe. And so my brother-in-law called the police. And I threw a robe on and ran downstairs, got in my car, and drove to the gas station. Sat there until the police came.”
According to Patridge, there was no forced entry into her home.
“On the side of my house there is a gate, and you usually need to put a code in to enter the gate on the side and go up the stairs,” she recalled. “And for whatever reason it was demagnetized that night.” In the rear of Patridge’s home, she said, “there are two sliding glass doors that enter into bedrooms,” and she had left the “far right one unlocked.” She also admitted that she “did not” have her alarm on “because I had never imagined anyone would break into my house, and I only left for a few days.” Asked whether she alarms it now, she replied, “I do every night.”
BRIAN AUSTIN GREEN
Brian Austin Green, the former Beverly Hills, 90210 star, was cohabitating with his then-girlfriend (and now-wife) Megan Fox at the time of the burglary. He did not realize that items were missing from his home until, he said, “probably two or three weeks after.”
“I was in the process of selling my house, and when I went to look for jewelry that I normally wore, it was missing,” said Green. “And I’m assuming that that was somewhere around 2½ weeks after it had been taken.”
Asked if he normally keeps the alarm on, he replied, “sometimes,” and acknowledged that there were times when he hadn’t alarmed his home around the time property began to go missing. He also said the criminals could’ve gained entry to his home through “a doggy door in my kitchen … about a foot wide and maybe 2½ feet high, 3 feet high. It’s a large door.”
Among the items stolen from Green were “a handgun” and “a watch,” which he wore on his wrist to court that day after it was recovered by police.
On the morning of August 24, 2009, Lohan returned home after being gone for “maybe three, four” hours at most while spending time in Malibu, according to her sworn testimony. When she got home, she noticed that her front door wasn’t locked, her alarm didn’t sound, and “everything was pretty much disheveled,” she said. Among the stolen items, she says, were “two watches,” an Hermès bag, “two paintings that were a gift from a friend,” a custom fur coat, and a “Chrome Hearts” necklace, among other things. She estimated that the stolen goods amounted to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” worth of property.
According to Lohan’s testimony, her house seemed to be relatively unsecured at the time of the burglary.
“I thought that I [turned on the alarm],” said Lohan. “I usually always did. I never really forgot. I remember that I was—I ran back into the house to get something, but I don’t remember if I turned it on or off.”
“I don’t believe that that’s alarmed,” Lohan said of a gate between the road and her front door, and also stated that a “big wooden door” separating steps that lead from the driveway to the road was unlocked, and a wrought-iron gate on the property “must not have been closed.”
Lohan’s cellphone, meanwhile, went off midway through her testimony. She also testified that a friend of hers claimed to identify one of her alleged burglars—they noticed the resemblance from her security-camera footage—when she was out on the town one night.
“Nick Prugo was standing nearby me, and my friend said, ‘That looks like the guy that robbed your house,’” testified Lohan. “And he was asked to leave where I was.”
Lohan later claimed that the burglary left her so traumatized that she hadn’t returned to the home since, first moving into a hotel and then an apartment.
“That night that I went back to the house, I just felt, to be honest, so violated and uncomfortable that I literally packed as much stuff as I could, because it wasn’t about the things that were taken, it was just the fact that someone came into the only private space that I have in my life at this point,” said Lohan. “And my sister was with me and she was really upset and scared. So I literally packed as much as I could and left that night and I still have not gone back to that house since that night.”
When Rachel Lee was arrested at her home in Las Vegas, she reportedly asked one of the arresting officers, “Did you talk to Lindsay? Well, what did she say?”
“The way she asked me that was not out of concern,” Det. Leanne Hoffman testified. “It was almost like, I don’t know, almost like a gossip column. Like an excitement to know or have knowledge of what a celebrity would have said about her.”
Bloom, star of the Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings films, was living with his girlfriend at the time, Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr, when his home was burglarized back on July 13, 2009. They were both out of town and Kerr’s friend Maria Skara, who returned to the house to pick up some items for her, notified Bloom of the burglary.
Among the stolen items, said Bloom, were “paintings and photographs” as well as “jackets, T shirts, underpants,” “a rug,” and “a box with  watches,” since he collects watches. “Everything of any sort of real value had been sort of lifted,” he said. Total losses from the burglary were “in the region of $500,000,” according to Bloom. Bloom also claimed his valuable watch collection wasn’t in a safe but was fairly well-hidden in a secret compartment inside a wall, obscured by a bookshelf, and testified that the thieves’ finding the box was “one of the things that was really freaky about the robbery, because I thought because they had found those that somebody who I knew personally must have broken into my house.” Bloom testified that he initially thought his housekeeper committed the robbery, and “so she sort of declined to work” there anymore, and he’s “since sent her flowers and stuff.”
There were several possible points of entry into his home for the burglars, said Bloom.
“To the left of the pedestrian gate, which is wooden, is a mesh gate, and that had been cut,” testified Bloom. “It had been cut and pulled open, and then the wire, it’s a wire, mesh wire, had been hooked back. There was actually a big plum plant that was there, that was sort of acting as a screen, but that had been moved and pushed to one side.”
Once the robbers got past the gate, Bloom said, “I suspect that they got in through the master bedroom. It’s the one door in the house that I hadn’t understood, but I thought it was locked. You push the lock down, but it has to actually click for a bar to go across. So there is a hook, right? And when you click it down, there is a bar that goes across and locks it in place. But when you push it down, it closes, and you can’t open it. But if you were to slide a credit card through it, it would pop right open.” He later testified that his gardener told him about how easy it would be to access the master bedroom, and that his alarm wasn’t on at the time of the robbery. Because Bloom claimed his “property is like a compound, as in, it’s secured all the way around,” he had left his car parked in the forecourt inside his property and “I leave the keys in the ignition,” he said.
According to Bloom, and the footage he observed from the security cameras, the burglars spent three hours robbing Bloom’s home.
According to Paris Hilton’s sworn testimony, she left her house on December 18, 2008, at around 10:30 p.m. and returned sometime “after 2 or 3 a.m.” Hilton cameos in Coppola’s film and agreed to allow Coppola to film scenes in her home. Because the home is in a gated community, Hilton testified that she “sometimes” didn’t lock her front door and that an extra key to it was “usually under the mat or under one of the flower planters or, like, up in a light.” She also testified that there’s “a very large gate” outside her property “that you can jump if you tried to.”
Hilton also claimed that she rarely left the alarm to her home on.
“Before this, I felt so safe in this gated community, like no one could ever get in, that I sometimes would just go out and not even think to put the alarm on, because I never thought anyone could ever get into my home,” Hilton testified.
Most of Hilton’s most prized possessions, including her valuable jewelry collection, were kept in a secret closet that “looks like a shoe closet from the outside, but you press a code and you can open it, and everything is hidden in there.” However, she claims it’s “possible” the secret closet was not secured.
Among her stolen items, Hilton testified “there was a few” photographs that were partially nude from the waist up taken, as well as “somewhere over 2½ to 3 million dollars worth of jewelry.”
Hilton still lives in the home and, since the robbery, testified that she had taken measures to secure her home “majorly.”