Officer Brett Goodkin stated that millions of dollars of property is believed to have been stolen by an L.A.-area gang of teen suspects between late 2008 and Sept. 2009.
INSIDE STORY: From High School Students to Celebrity Burglars
Asked if he would characterize the group as professional thieves, Goodkin replied, “I wouldn’t say this was just a misguided scavenger hunt. There were at least 10 victims, and these were very serious crimes alleged. The suspects in this case are not 12-year-old children … We have every indication this was a very successful, busy burglary crew.”
Rachel Lee, 19, Diana Tamayo, 19, Courtney Ames, 18, Alexis Neiers, 18, and Roy Lopez, Jr., 27, were all arrested in connection to the crimes. Nicholas Prugo, 18, was arrested last month and has been formally accused of the Lohan and Patridge burglaries.
A Stolen Handgun
A source close to the investigation says Green and Fox were completely unaware they were burglarized until Green’s stolen handgun was retrieved from one of the suspect’s homes.
Police contacted Green after they traced ownership of the gun back to the actor. He also discovered a Rolex Submariner watch had been stolen.
The source adds the group conducted surveillance on – but did not break into – a number of celebrity homes, including Zac Efron and DJ AM’s residences.
Goodkin added that a seventh suspect is on the run in this case: Convicted drug trafficking felon, Jonathan Ajar, 27, is considered armed and dangerous, and is believed to be hiding out in the Phoenix, Ariz., area. The LAPD has nicknamed him “Johnny Dangerous.”
Asked if more celebrities are believed to have been burglarized, Goodkin replied that the investigation is ongoing. He added, however, that more arrests are expected.
The source tells PEOPLE that Ajar is the boyfriend of suspect Courtney Ames.
LAPD provided a photo Wednesday showing at least 80 glittering pieces of jewelry – including rings, necklaces and bracelets – belonging to Hilton that were allegedly recovered from Ajar’s home.
Hilton has since recovered most of her stolen items. The source confirms that Bilson has also gotten some of her lost possessions back.
Also Wednesday, L.A. prosecutors charged Prugo with five more felony counts of first-degree burglary, bringing the total counts against him to seven; Tamayo with two counts; and Ames, Neiers and Lopez with one count each. In their filing, prosecutors estimate that more than $3 million in jewelry, designer clothes and accessories were stolen, but have declined to formally charge Lee for now, pending further investigation.
According to a DA statement, the break-ins occurred after the suspects “studied celebrity magazines and websites and picked out clothing and jewelry they wanted.”
An attorney for Rachel Lee hasn’t returned calls for comment. Sean Erenstoft, an attorney for Prugo, stated his client’s role in the capers was limited, while lawyer Jeffery Rubenstein said he believes his client, Neiers, will be cleared of all charges.
If convicted, Prugo could face a maximum of up to nine years in prison, while the others could face up to six years each, although actual sentencing could vary widely, depending on past convictions and other factors.