‘Bling Ring gang who stole from Paris Hilton nicked £29k and bong from me first’

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The Bling Ring was a group of infamous teenagers from Calabasas, California, who broke into the homes of several celebrities in the mid-2000s – and today one alleged victim is still demanding justice.

Members Rachel Lee, Nick Prugo, Alexis Neiers, Diana Tamayo and Courtney Ames robbed roughly $3 million (£2,182,935) in cash and belongings from celebrities like Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan between October 2008 and August 2009.

The group had help from Johnny Ajar, a former convict, who was recruited by girlfriend Courtney to sell some of the stolen items for cash. She also recruited her friend Roy Lopez as a reseller, who participated in burglarising Paris Hilton.

They would use Google Maps to locate their targets' homes, and websites like Facebook and Twitter to examine their schedules to determine when the victims would be away.

While the group targeted media figures known for their fashionable tastes and lavish lifestyles, not all of their victims were famous.

Eden, 31, was allegedly the Bling Ring's first victim, as he claims they used his home to practice and hone their burglarising skills.

Back in the early 00s, when MySpace was the social media site that reigned supreme, Eden became friends with Nick on the platform.

"I had a large following on MySpace, about 100,000 'friends' which during that time was considered a lot more than it is today. I also had a YouTube channel where I collaborated with friends to make funny skits and that helped boost my MySpace presence," Eden told Daily Star.

Eden thinks it was his online fame that drew Nick to him and, after being friends online for a while, they finally agreed to meet.

"He continued to reach out until I finally agreed to hang out with him. I felt like I knew him because of the number of times we’d exchanged messages," he explained.

"He would get offended and upset if I didn’t respond to him, it was very suffocating."

They finally met in October 2006 and went to a Lakers game with Nick's family friend Jeremy Sumpter, who is best known for playing Peter Pan in the 2003 live-action remake.

"We were pretty cool at first, he 'broke himself in' by setting up an evening at the Staples Centre with him and Jeremy," he explained.

"He told me I could invite my best friends at the time and he knew I’d be interested and agree to meet with him if those were the circumstances."

As their friendship grew, Eden said he started to see Nick's true colours and his obsession with fame. The duo would argue regularly and Nick became jealous when Eden would hang out with others without him.

"Nick was shy at first with anyone he’d meet. He would mirror peoples personalities in order to get them to like him. A true sociopath," he revealed.

"When he was comfortable he got sassy and was able to use people's insecurities against them whether he wanted to make others laugh, or he was angry and in an argument.

"He was very fascinated with fame, he knew that I had some famous friends and he wanted in on that. The closest he got was finding out Dylan Sprouse’s house phone number, which I later found out that Dylan didn’t even give to him. He was basically a sassy stalker."

Before the Bling Ring started their crime spree, Eden had met each of the members at parties and other social situations and thought that they all got along. He now believes they were using this time to closely monitor his social media, planning their attack.

Eden would regularly update his MySpace friends with his life and one day told them that he and his family were going to Jamaica for 11 days in July of 2007.

Fast forward to when they got back from their trip, they found out that someone had stolen $40,000 (£29,000) from Eden's parents safe that had been saved over decades.

They didn't stop there, as thieves also snatched Eden's brother's bong, his mum's Birkin bag and keyed a swastika into their car.

"Nick committed several crimes against my family and me throughout the course of a month or so before my Jamaica trip," Eden claimed.

"One morning I stepped outside and noticed a swastika keyed into my car with a broken watermelon behind it that had been clearly thrown on my back windshield. My friends all knew of this, including Nick, who played it off as if he was also concerned.

"At the same time, he and his other friends [in the Bling Ring] had an 'edgy' sense of humour and were causally racist and antisemitic. I knew it was him because it happened the night after we argued and he told me I was going to 'regret being a b*tch'.

"Also the way he reacted to it in person was very obviously acting. That was toward the end of our friendship when he fully committed to being friends with just the [Bling Ring] girls and going to parties and clubs that allowed underage children in their doors."

A couple of weeks later, Eden posted that he was going to a sleepover at a friend's house and thought nothing of it as his dad and a friend were still home. Their presence didn't deter Nick from allegedly sneaking in with Rachel and stealing Eden's laptop.

"Nick most likely decided he was invincible – he knew my parents knew him and assumed they would brush it off as one of my lost friends. He took my laptop," Eden told us.

"That’s when I finally sent him a message on MySpace confronting him and saying we had cameras. We got in a fight and he denied it and we stopped talking. We hung out again a month later, as I was naive and he was manipulative.

"I had a gut feeling it was him and Rachel but never certainly knew. We even had fingerprints and everything checked in the house but we didn't find out who it was as this was before the story had hit the news."

Eden's suspicions weren't confirmed until years later when the news story of the Bling Ring finally hit the news. Then, when journalist Nancy Jo Sales wrote an article titled The Suspects Wore Louboutins for Vanity Fair in 2010, more details of the crimes they committed against Eden and his family came to light.

"Nick did a Vanity Fair interview and gave the details that he’s never given before, which was originally how I heard about the events that happened at my house; especially when he said he broke into his 'friend from Woodland Hills house in the summer of junior year' I believe, who was currently on a trip to Jamaica," Eden explained.

"He said he only took $8k which I’m sure his lawyer told him to say, in case anything happened."

This article went on to inspire Sofia Coppola's 2013 film The Bling Ring which starred Emma Watson. This was released alongside the book about the infamous crimes, The Bling Ring: How A Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World, written by Nancy.

The 31-year-old received a call from his manager in Spring 2013 as she found out that the book mentioned Eden by name. In the film, his name has been changed to Evan.

"I'm at work when I get a call from my manager Cindy freaking out about a book called The Bling Ring and there's an entire page about what went down with Eden from Woodland Hills who was in Jamaica with his family in the summer of 2007," he said.

"Not only did she freak out, I suddenly freaked out. I had a little panic attack, immediately went home to look this movie and book up. Not only was I feeling angry about this, confused, upset, but I was also feeling good, I felt like I could reopen this case, I felt like I was going to get something out of this.

"Justice, notoriety, anything, something for my family because I feel like I failed them for being so open and having so many toxic people come around me at that time.

"I also only found out through this movie and book that they took my [car] at the time on a joyride to Melrose to go shopping and brought my car back. I always wondered in my head why my gas tank was on empty when I came back from Jamaica when it was never empty at that time. So that was a little extra lemon and salt to the cut."

Eventually, the Bling Ring's crimes caught up with them, as an unidentified tipster informed police that Nick and Rachel were responsible for the Lindsay Lohan burglary.

Nick's face had been captured on camera at the house, and the authorities discovered through the use of Facebook that Nick and Rachel were friends. Nick was arrested and originally denied any involvement in the burglaries, but later admitted that his anxiety about the case was preventing him from eating, sleeping, or breathing normally, as well as causing him to lose his hair.

He confessed to the cops without first negotiating a plea deal, telling them about other crimes they were completely unaware of. He also revealed to the cops that the ring was still looking for new targets, including Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Hilary Duff, and Vanessa Hudgens.

The Los Angeles Police Department obtained search warrants for the remaining ring members in the two weeks following Nick's confessions. Sadly the crimes against Eden's family weren't included in their cases.

Nick was sentenced to two years in jail for first-degree residential burglary but was released a year early in April 2013. While most of the Bling Ring members chose to stay out of the spotlight, Nick did the opposite by sharing his side of the story to Good Morning America in February 2010.

Since then he has been in and out of prison. He was sentenced to 160 days in prison in 2014 for breaking his parole, charged with solicitation to commit sexual assault in 2015, and pleaded guilty to misdemeanour stalking in 2016.

"I spoke to Nick in March 2020, a little after I posted my detailed Bling Ring video to YouTube and got his social media from a mutual source; I reached out and he was very nice until the moment he realised I posted the video," he explained.

"Then he got angry and defensive and acted as if I should be over this when I still hadn’t gotten anything back; whether it was closure or the stuff he stole. Seems easy to 'get over it' when you’re not affected. Very much sociopathic behaviour.

"We ended up bickering back and forth, and he brought up taking me to court in which I told him I hope he does so we can get this going. He didn’t know what to say so he blocked me."

Rachel was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property. She was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading no guilty to breaking and entering Audrina Patridge's home in 2009, however she only served one year and four months. Rachel also keeps to herself these days so it's unclear where she is now.

Courtney – who wore one of the necklaces she reportedly stole from Lindsay Lohan to court – was sentenced to probation and community service. According to TMZ, she tried to legally change her last name in 2016 and has managed to stay out of the spotlight since her involvement in the crimes.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Diana feared being deported for her offence and was sentenced to probation and community service after pleading no contest. Like Courtney, she has since stayed out of the spotlight.

Alexis – who was reportedly addicted to heroin – was charged with burglary and sentenced to six months in jail and three years' probation and spent a total of 30 days behind bars. Alexis now has her substance abuse under control and met her husband in rehab, with who she has two children.

Johnny was sentenced to three years in jail on April 15, 2010. He was released less than a year later, in March 2011 but he was reported to be back in jail as of May 2013.

After pleading no contest to stealing over $2 million (£1,453,330) in jewellery from Paris Hilton, Roy was sentenced on November 8, 2012. He was sentenced to three years of probation and was given credit for the 100 days he had previously spent in prison.

All of these years later, Eden is still seeking justice for his family.

"Many people came out against me when I opened up with my story, with some saying 'I don’t feel sorry for rich people' which is very dehumanising, especially when we weren’t rich like the celebrities," he explained.

"My family wasn't even able to afford that loss; and even if we were rich, my family came out here with nothing, and made something of themselves.

"They earned every penny they made. There should never be an excuse to rob someone of their belongings while they aren’t home, especially when they put trust in that person."

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  • Hollywood
  • Crime
  • Paris Hilton

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