Meet Alexis Neiers, the quintessential L.A. party kid: Her mom is a former Playboy Playmate, her dad was the director of photography on “Friends” and she lives on a pretty street in Westlake Village with her mom and a party girl pal, 20-year-old Tess Taylor, a Playboy Cyber Girl. Neiers and Taylor hit up L.A. night life hot spots so much that E! offered the girls a reality show, “Pretty Wild,” airing this March.
If things had gone differently for Neiers, “Pretty Wild” could have set her on a course to become the next Paris Hilton. But this is where the story gets weird: Neiers and friends are actually “the bling ring,” a group of 18- and 19-year-old burglars who Los Angeles police have linked to multiple burglaries of celebrities’ homes, including Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox, Audrina Patridge, and Orlando Bloom. Now, Vanity Fair reports, “Pretty Wild” is not so much about the L.A. party scene as it is following Neiers’ seems-to-be-destined path to jail.“The bling ring” kids, who were busted by the LAPD this summer, allegedly include Nick Prugo, 19; Rachel Lee, 19; Diana Tamayo, 19; Courtney Ames, 19; Roy Lopez, Jr., 27; and possibly several others. According to VF, the kids were accused of stealing $130,000 in clothes and jewelry from both Lohan and Bilson, for example. When cops arrived at Neiers’ home with a search warrant, they found a Marc Jacobs handbag allegedly belonging to Bilson and a Chanel necklace allegedly belonging to Lohan. Yet Neiers insisted to Vanity Fair, “I have receipts for everything.”
According to VF, “the bling ring” didn’t start off burglarizing celebs. Their first break-in was at the Woodland Hills (CA) home of a boy who Prugo knew would be out of town. At that first burglary, Prugo and Lee allegedly found a box with $8,000 in cash under a bed. They split the money in half and treated themselves to a Rodeo Drive shopping spree the next day. The kids used to steal credit cards and cash from unlocked cars in their neighborhoods — Mercedes, Bentleys, etc. — and use the money to go shopping the next day, Prugo told VF. Unsurprisingly, all these robberies also supported at least one drug habit: Prugo admits he developed a cocaine addiction, which he claims to have kicked.
Eventually, “the bling ring” turned on to celebrities. In October 2008, they chose Paris Hilton as their first victim, Prugo told VF, because they figured she was “dumb.” He added, “Like, who would leave a door unlocked? Who would leave a lot of money lying around?” Not surprisingly, at Hilton’s Hollywood Hills home, the burglars discovered a key under the mat; inside, Lee allegedly stole a dress and some bras, while the others allegedly stole a bottle of vodka and cash. Hilton apparently never reported that first burglary, so “the bling ring” returned. Eventually, in December 2008, Lopez was allegedly caught with almost $2 million worth of Hilton’s jewelry and a Louis Vuitton tote.
No doubt, “Pretty Wild” will make for compelling reality TV — but really, all the kids and all their reasons for getting involved in this alleged crime ring are fascinating. Lee was apparently a big fan of the fashions on “Gossip Girl” and “The Hills”; some kids in “the bling ring” even expressed interest in becoming designers themselves and attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A., Lauren Conrad’s (sort of) alma mater. Are they wannabes? Never-beens-and-never-will-bes? Parasites? Maybe a little bit of each, maybe all of the above.
But I’d say the most damning analysis of the “bling ring” came from LAPD Officer Brett Goodkin, the lead investigator on the case, who told VF: “It may be a stretch, but is wanting to wear somebody’s clothes that different from wanting to wrap yourself up in their skin, like that guy in The Silence of the Lambs”? [Vanity Fair]