Last night on 20/20 they had a special on the Hollywood “Bling Ring” that broke into and robbed the homes of numerous celebrities in the Los Angeles area. 20/20 interviewed one of the key members of the group Nick Prugo who along with the alleged leader Rachel Lee began the burglarizing of the celebrities’ homes.
They eventually began to recruit other people in their crime spree to include helping to sell off some of the goods like watches and jewelery they were stealing. The interview with Prugo was interesting in the fact that it showed that these burglaries was motivated by more than celebrity obsession, these teenagers also had a drug problem and like many thieves they were using the stolen goods to also finance their drug addiction. Also of interest was that Lee and Prugo first met in an alternative high school for troubled teens which shows these two have had plenty of issues in the past. Prugo claims to be a shy person who first became part of the “in crowd” that Lee was part of when they met at this high school:
Struggling, Prugo transferred to an alternative school, Indian Hills High in Agoura Hills, Calif. There he met Rachel Lee, who he said would change his life.
“She was always really nice to me, always kind of took me under her wing,” Prugo said.
Lee was everything Prugo wasn’t. She was upper-class, popular, the consummate “it” girl who would bring Prugo into the Calabasas inner circle and introduce him to the vibrant L.A. party scene.
She also had a history of trouble with the law and was on probation for petty theft. “Their relationship is very interesting,” said Nancy Jo Sales, a writer who profiled the alleged burglars for Vanity Fair. “She was this very powerful girl, who is popular and has this kind of wild streak. He, on the other hand, is this very timid, searching kind of personality. He’s friendless and they get together and trouble ensues.”
Prugo got to know Lee’s friends.
“She introduced me to her friends and they were all pretty and like her and we clicked,” said Prugo. “I’m hanging out with all these pretty women and, you know, [it] made me feel good.”
His new social network included a teen named Courtney Ames and reality star hopefuls Alexis and Gabby Neiers. Prugo was suddenly thrust into the L.A. nightlife. He started doing drugs, he said.
“I started stealing from my parents for money for these drugs,” Prugo said.
Prugo says he suddenly found himself in a daze of boozy, coke-induced all-nighters. [ABC News 20/20]
What I didn’t like about Prugo in the interview was that he was trying to blame everything on Rachel Lee and he was just following her around because he was infatuated with her.
Anyway besides 20/20, Vanity Fair also did a feature this week on the “Bling Ring”, and what I found surprising by this article was how easy it was to rob these homes. Some of these homes they literally walked up to them knocked on the door to see if someone was home and then rob them if no one was there. Some of the homes actually had unlocked doors for them to gain access with. You would think these rich celebrities would have an expensive security system or even a night watchman on their properties? I also had to laugh that they robbed Paris Hilton because they figured she was dumb:
They picked Paris Hilton as their first victim, Prugo said, because they figured she was “dumb.” “Like, who would leave a door unlocked? Who would leave a lot of money lying around?”
One night in October of 2008, he says, he and Lee entered Hilton’s sprawling tile-roofed mansion in a gated community in the Hollywood Hills, opening the front door with a key they had found under the mat. “Stupid,” Prugo said, shrugging. He said he found the sensation of suddenly being in Hilton’s home “horrifying. There was that percentage of ‘Wow, this is Paris Hilton’s house,’ but as soon as I put my foot in the door I was just wanting to run out.”
He says he served as a lookout at the top of the stairs while Lee went into Hilton’s bedroom to search for valuables. “I was sweating unnaturally. Every five minutes, I was yelling, Let’s get the fuck out of here. She was like, It’s fine, it’s fine, let’s keep going.”
Lee took some expensive bras and a designer dress that night, he says (he can’t remember which; there would be so many). They took a bottle of Grey Goose vodka from Hilton’s “nightclub room.” They took “crumpled cash,” he claims, “fifties, hundreds,” from Hilton’s purses.
The idea was to take so little that the heiress wouldn’t notice—and so they could come back again. Hilton actually didn’t notice or at least didn’t report any of the Bling Ring burglaries until December 19, 2008, when Roy Lopez allegedly stole close to $2 million worth of her jewelry, stuffing it into one of her Louis Vuitton tote bags. [Vanity Fair]
Readers probably won’t be surprised to find out that Paris Hilton is a drug user either:
“We found about, like, five grams of coke in Paris’s house” on another night, Prugo told police; he says they snorted it and left. Then they “drove around Mulholland, having the best time of our lives.”
Hilton’s lawyer denied this allegation by Prugo.
Another interesting fact from the article was that Rachel Lee’s mother is a North Korean immigrant:
She was a fashionable girl whom Prugo and Neiers describe as “spoiled” and “haughty.” She had troubles of her own; apparently she didn’t get along with her mother, Vickie Kwon, a North Korean immigrant and owner of two centers of the tutoring company Kumon. Prugo claims, “Rachel hates her stepfather,” whom her mother married when Lee was in her early teens. (Neither Lee nor Kwon responded to requests for comment.) [Vanity Fair]
Since Rachel Lee is 19 years old that must mean that her mom immigrated to the US around 1990 right before the Great Famine happened in North Korea and the mass defections from the country we see today began to happen. So there must be an interesting back story to how her defected from North Korea back then. Rachel’s dad is a South Korean businessman David Lee who lives in Las Vegas. Rachel moved in with him in the months before her arrest.
Anyway read the rest of the Vanity Fair article but this statement here from Prugo pretty much sums him up:
He said he believes that confessing was “the turning point in my life. I want to make it clear that everything I had in my possession I gave back. It was really hard for me to do that, but the stuff wasn’t mine anyway, so I’m a piece of shit for taking it.