The Los Angeles Police Department believes they’ve finally caught the people responsible for a string of burglaries of celebrity homes over the last year — and like that other famous Hollywood “bling ring,” most of the suspects are teenagers. At a news conferences on Tuesday, October 2nd, Capt. Lillian Carranza of the LAPD Commercial Crimes Division announced that Tyress Williams, 19, Jshawne Lamon Daniels, 19, Damaji Corey Hall, 18, and his mother, Ashle Jennifer Hall, 34, have been arrested in connection with a burglary on September 27th at the home of NFL player Robert Woods. Online records indicate the three teenagers were taken into custody by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on September 28 and are still being held, while Hall was booked on September 30 and released yesterday.
According to a press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Williams has been charged with four felony counts of first-degree residential burglary for allegedly breaking into residences owned by French singer Tota Matthieu (on August 24th), professional baseball player Yasiel Puig (on September 18th), Rihanna (on September 25th), and Woods (on September 27th).
According to the LAPD, Williams, Daniels and Hall are part of a “small, specialized group of gang members” who specifically targeted the homes of celebrities, and chose victims they knew would be out of town or otherwise detained after reviewing their social media accounts and checking tour and travel schedules. Woods’ home in the San Fernando Valley was burglarized while the Rams player was in the middle of a game against the Minnesota Vikings, while Puig’s house in Encino was targeted four times, several of which occurred while he was playing right field for the L.A. Dodgers. The first burglary occurred during in March, when the alleged thieves made off with $170,000 worth of jewelry, and his home was also robbed while he was playing in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. (So far, only the teens have only been accused of the September burglary.)
Capt. Carranza said that after selecting their target, the suspects would case the residences in “luxury” vehicles. One suspect, wearing a nice button-down shirt, would knock on the front door, and if no one appeared to be home, the other suspects would break in and head straight for the master suite, where they would ransack the room in search of cash, jewelry and firearms. They would leave within minutes, sometimes in a different vehicle, before an alarm or other security system triggered a response from police. Carranza called their M.O. “flocking,” a slang term referenced in songs by rappers like Nipsey Hussle and YG — but the strategy isn’t really any different than the one employed by Alexis Neiers, Rachel Lee, and Nick Prugo, three of the Orange County teenagers arrested in 2009 for burglarizing the homes of Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Lindsay Lohan and others, earning the nickname “The Bling Ring.” (All three eventually pleaded no contest and served time in prison.)
“They flock like birds to areas where the rich and famous resided,” Carranza said. “Once a potential target home was selected, a larger vehicle would be utilized to give the suspects the opportunity to change into more comfortable clothing and hoodies to avoid being recognized and cart away the stolen goods.”
Not long after Woods’ home was burglarized last week, Williams, Daniels and Hall were pulled over for an “unrelated traffic stop,” according to police, and detained; a subsequent search of their vehicle recovered firearms and other items that appeared to be stolen, including possessions belonging to Woods, Rihanna, Milian and Puig. Surveillance video from Puig’s home was allegedly used to identify Williams. All three teens were arrested and booked at the Valley Jail in Van Nuys; armed with search warrants for their homes, police recovered an additional $50,000 in cash, as well as watches, jewelry, designer purses, a stolen vehicle and a firearm. Hall’s mother was also arrested for grand theft auto, but has been released.
A representative from the Los Angeles County DA’s Office tells Rolling Stone that only Williams’ has been charged for now, and prosecutors have “sent the matter back to LAPD for further investigation.”