If ever there were the perfect Hollywood crime, this is it. Not perfect in terms of unsolvable or brilliantly masterminded — by that standard it was one of America's least perfect crimes — but perfect in that from victim to perp there are no ugly people, places or things involved in the case at all. The case involves showbiz's hottest stars, a group of young aspiring models and night clubbers from an affluent suburb using the web's celeb sites to break into the stars' fabulous homes and steal their jewels and accessories.
It is a tailor-made robbery of Hollywood, by Hollywood, for Hollywood and without a doubt soon to be taken full circle and fed back to Hollywood's studio machine.
TMZ is calling them the Burglar Bunch, which is pretty clunky to us, but might well end up sticking. We're making a pitch for the Beverly Hills Bandits, but we're open to better monikers. Feel free to submit in the comments section.
To bring our readers up to speed on the case that will certainly be a part of our lives for a long long time to come, we've provided a handy primer below:
The setting: The five charged with the actual break-ins - four girls and one boy, ages 18 - 19 - met as students at Indian Hills High in Agoura Hills, an affluent neighborhood at the far western edge of the San Fernando Valley, approximately a 40 minute drive, traffic permitting, from the Beverly Hills and Hollywood neighborhoods where they preyed.
The thieves: A Daily Beast interview with classmates of the accused (full disclosure: by my wife) paints them as an aimless partying group who occasionally ventured over the hills to Hollywood nightclubs. The piece provided some brief thumbnails of the group:
- Nick Prugo, the clan's sole boy, is described as awkward and shy butis said upon robbing Paris Hilton's house, to have donned her shoes and done a dance in excitement.
- Courtney Ames, a tough girl giving to brawling and hair pulling who was Purgo's best friend, until recently when post-arrest, she gave an interview blaming him for the crime spree.
- Rachel Lee, a glamor girl who was arrested last year for stealing $85 worth of Sephora products, said to to be the group's ringleader.
- Alexis Lopez, as aspiring model, sister to a Playboy Playmate.
- Diana Tamayo, about whom less is known, but apparently has "immigration issues" complicating prosecution.
- Roy Lopez, not present for the break-ins; a bartender in his mid-20's who allegedly helped the gang fence their goods.
The Crimes: The gang is charged with breaking into a series of homes including those of Lohan, Patridge, Bloom, Hilton and Rachel Bilson and making off with jewelry, fancy clothes and accessories. The crimes took place from October of 2008 through to this September.
The Slip Up: You can't have everything with a Hollywood crime; you can't expect your thieves to be both hot and geniuses. The kids entered the houses undisguised, their faces captured on security cameras and subsequently shown to the world.
The Aftermath: Only hours after their arrests, the group already seems to be turning on each other, with Purgo seeming to be the focus of the girls' rage. The Beast quotes a friend of the gang saying everybody "wants to kill the kid. Everyone's mad at Nick."
And so we wait, for justice to assert itself and for Hollywood to figure out what is the best way to exploit a goldmine like this. Please check back frequently for updates in this, the burglary of the century.
UPDATE: We are reminded that, in a fashion, the story is already on its way to the screen as Gawker friend Mark Ebner's book Six Degrees of Paris Hilton about the underworld swirling around the Paris set, featuring tales remarkably similar to that described above, has been optioned by Fox TV and has just begun its journey towards the screen.