Several celebrities have been targeted by residential burglars this year, prompting comparisons to a similar string of Hollywood home invasions between 2008 and 2009.
Cesar Millan, host of the “Dog Whisperer” television series, was the first star targeted, according the New York Post.
In the months that followed, numerous high-profile residents in and around Los Angeles were reportedly victims of burglaries. Some, including singer Alanis Morissette and rapper A$AP Rocky, lost more than $1 million in jewelry and other property.
Five NBA Championship rings were among the items stolen from former New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher, who reportedly lost a total of $300,000 in possessions.
Other alleged victims include actor David Spade, rapper Nicki Minaj and actress Emmy Rossum.
The extent of the ongoing criminal activity, one police source said, already exceeds the so-called “Bling Ring” band of thieves whose burglaries inspired a book and a 2013 film.
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told the Post that those crimes were “junior level compared to what’s going on now.”
LAPD Sgt. Mike Maher pointed out an apparent difference between the Bling Ring and those responsible for the recent crimes. While those responsible for crimes in the 2008-09 spree were primarily fans of the stars they robbed and wanted to own some of their possessions, Maher said the current rash of burglaries seems to be motivated by profits.
“They don’t know who they’re robbing,” he said. “They mostly target the biggest houses. They’re only in it for the money.”
According to Maher, the criminals are likely using the money they make from the crime as “a way to fund gangs.”
Police have taken the crimes seriously, leading the Los Angeles Times to publish a story questioning whether celebrities receive preferential treatment from police.
While authorities acknowledge the high-profile cases have received more attention, through fingerprinting and other evidence-gathering techniques, than a typical home burglary, LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore said the identity of the victims is not what determines the priority.
Investigators are treating the crimes as a series, he said, plus “the value of items taken certainly is an influencer and would prioritize them.”
Authorities believe the culprits stake out neighborhoods and target homes they believe are empty. The crimes are usually over well before police can respond to any reports.
One Hollywood agent told the Post that clients have been advised by security “to keep cars in their driveways and to leave TVs and radios and lights on” when they leave in an effort to make it appear that they are home.
The Post also spoke to a jewelry appraiser who noted the apparent sophistication of the burglars who stole a reported $50,000 worth of sunglasses and purses from Mariah Carey. Much of the singer’s jewelry collection includes butterfly-shaped pieces, which the appraiser said would make them harder and more risky to fence.
Police have not made any arrests in connection with this year’s burglaries.
[Featured image: Associated Press]