Hollywood can breathe again as Burglar Bunch are arrested

Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom among victims of 'celebrity-obsessed' gang

It's like a pitch for a Hollywood film: a gang of teenage girls robs celebrities' homes, stealing millions of dollars' worth of jewellery, clothes and designer bags from names such as Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. They even have a catchy name: the Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch.

Only it's not a movie (not yet anyway), and now the gang has been busted.

For the past few months, distressed celebrities have been returning to their gated homes in Hollywood Hills to find the Burglar Bunch had struck again.

Bamboozled police finally cracked the case this week, with the arrest on Thursday of the gang's alleged mastermind, a 19-year-old called Rachel Lee.

Ms Lee is said to be obsessed with celebrity fashion. Police say that when they raided her father's garage in Las Vegas they found a stash of money, jewellery and laptops, one of which contained a photograph of a partially nude woman, thought to be Paris Hilton.

Also seized were photographs of the gang wearing jewellery and clothes belonging to the celebrities – such as a blue Rolex watch belonging to Lohan, as well as a list of celebrity addresses.

One source said that when the gang broke into the home of the British actor Orlando Bloom it wasn't his belongings they were interested in, but rather those of his girlfriend, Miranda Kerr.

Ms Lee is currently in jail in Nevada. Three other women – Diana Tamayo, 19, Courtney Ames, 18, and Alexis Neirs, 18 – were also picked up, along with two men, Roy Lopez, 27, and Nick Prugo, 18. Ms Ames and Ms Neirs have been released on £30,000 bail.

Detectives believe the gang targeted the addresses they robbed by using Hollywood star maps, and checked their filming schedules on the internet to make sure the homes were empty. At least four other American television stars are believed to be victims of the gang.

Paris Hilton, 28, went to retrieve her belongings from a police station in Los Angeles last night. She had items worth an estimated $2m (£1.2m) stolen.

A spokeswoman said: "She didn't get everything, but fortunately most of her jewellery was returned."

While it sounds like a sophisticated criminal operation, Ms Lee and Ms Tamayo only graduated from shoplifting at a cosmetics store in Los Angeles in August, for which they were fined and given probation.

In true filmic tradition, the gang's members have already started turning on each other, according to TMZ, the celebrity website that broke the story of Michael Jackson's death.

One of the suspects, Alexis Neirs, told the website: "Nick and Rachel did the burglaries together. Roy Lopez was the one who sold the stuff they had taken. I'm innocent in all of this, and feel terrible for the people who got robbed."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Voices
Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré deliver an anti-fracking letter to No 10 last week
voicesThe great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick