LA celebrity burglars arrested? The arrests of three teenagers and a woman over the weekend in connection to burglaries at the homes of athletes Yasiel Puig and Robert Woods, singer Rihanna and actress Christina Milian led to the recovery of a stash of stolen luxury items, as well as a list of at least 10 other celebrities the crew of thieves planned to target, detectives said Tuesday.
Among the other names found on the list were LeBron James, Viola Davis and Matt Damon, said Capt. Lillian Carranza of the Los Angeles Police Department’s commercial crimes division.
Officers contacted all of the people on the list to check if they were victims of burglaries and to tell them how to “harden” their homes against break-ins, Carranza said.
The list was discovered on Friday after police stopped the three teens — all between the ages of 18 and 19 — in an allegedly stolen vehicle in South Los Angeles.
Inside they found a handgun, designer handbags, expensive watches, jewelry and thousands of dollars in cash, which burglary detectives later determined matched some of items stolen in crimes they were investigating.
The trio — 19-year-old Tyress Lavon Williams, 18-year-old Damaji Corey Hall and 19-year-old Jshawne Lamon Daniels — was arrested. On Sunday, a search warrant was served at a home in South L.A. on Sunday where Hall’s mother, 34-year-old Ashle Jennifer Hall, was also taken into custody.
All were arrested on suspicion of grand theft.
Carranza said the teenagers were part of a prolific burglary crew, responsible for dozens of burglaries at the mansions of celebrities in the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood Hills, and perhaps beyond.
“I could not even begin to estimate at this point” how much the crew was believed to have stolen, Carranza said at LAPD’s downtown headquarters on Tuesday. “But it’s in the millions.”
Detectives said the items on display on during a news conference were the stolen goods they hadn’t yet identified owners for. Investigators did not say when they believed the items were stolen.
The most recent burglary police believe the crew committed occurred on Sept. 27 at the home of Woods, a player for the L.A. Rams who was at the Coliseum for the team’s Thursday night game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Carranza said the suspects struck Woods’ home between 8 p.m. and midnight, when they knew he would be gone.
“Detectives learned that these homes were being selected based on social media postings and the touring or travel schedules of the owners,” Carranza said.
She said they operated as part of a sophisticated network of burglary crews made up of gang members from South L.A., who on scouting missions drove through their targets’ high-end neighborhoods in luxury vehicles so as not to raise suspicion.
The discovery of these tactics changed detectives’ previous belief that a rash of burglaries of celebrity homes over the last two years was “random,” Carranza said.
Detectives believe the suspects followed the same plan at one of Puig’s homes in Encino last month.
On Sept. 18, video footage from security cameras at the front door and inside the bedroom of the home caught three suspects ransacking the residence and attempting to steal a safe.
First, one suspect clad in a hooded sweatshirt knocks on the front door, then smashes it in with a few kicks when no one answered. The suspects later could be seen going through a master bedroom on the second floor, where they found the safe that they later abandoned near the front entrance.
They fled, but one of the cameras captured a clear image of one suspect’s face. LAPD released the security videos on the department’s Youtube channel.
Puig was at Dodger Stadium in a game against the Colorado Rockies during that break-in. The burglars caused at least $10,000 in damage to his home, according to the LAPD. Investigators have not yet said what else was stolen.
Carranza said detectives believed the suspects also attempted to break in to Grammy-winning singer Rihanna’s home on Sept. 25. Nothing was stolen in that incident.
Police did not say when they believed the burglary of Millian’s home occurred. Police said previously in August that the actress and singer’s home was broken in to twice in a week.
It was not clear whether the teenage suspects arrested on Friday were involved in three previous burglaries at Puig’s residences, two at his Sherman Oaks home and one other at the Encino home.
In March 2017, burglars made off with $170,000 worth of jewelry from the Sherman Oak’s home. Later that year, when Puig was playing in Game 7 of the World Series against the Houston Astros, the home was burglarized again.
The burglaries were part of a wave of similar break-ins at celebrity homes across the San Fernando Valley and nearby neighborhoods.
Detective Mel Vergara, who led the investigation into the burglaries, said social media has made it easier than ever for potential thieves to target the homes of wealthy celebrities.
“It’s just technology that they’re taking advantage of,” Vergara said. “Entertainers are putting their daily activities on (social media).”
Detectives believed that the three arrested on Friday were just one crew of many. In a statement, LAPD said investigators were tracking a “series of residential burglaries (in Los Angeles) targeting actors, producers, musicians, and professional athletes” that were not attributed to the suspects named Tuesday.