Jul 22, 2007

Hollywood's rich and famous targeted in burglary spree

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LOS ANGELES - Professional burglars have raided the homes of some of Los Angeles' most famous residents in the past year, making off with more than seven million dollars in swag, it was reported Friday.

Police and city authorities said the same gang of thieves was believed to be responsible for as many as 50 robberies carried out in upmarket neighborhoods such as Bel Air and Beverly Hills.

The Los Angeles Times reported that celebrities whose homes have been raided included country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as well as

former Paramount Pictures chief Sherry Lansing and her Oscar-winning director husband Billy Friedkin.

Other victims included Duran Duran guitarist John Taylor and Los Angeles Clippers basketball player Cuttino Mobley, who had around 500,000 dollars in cash and jewelry stolen from his Bel Air mansion.

Police said the crooks worked in a two-to-three man crews and had chosen their targets carefully, invariably striking when the residents were out of town and favoring walled properties that could not be seen from the road.

Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant Ray Lombardo described the secluded, hilly neighborhoods affected by the crime spree as a "a target-rich environment."

"These guys know it and know the homes and area," Lombardo told the Times. "I hate to call them it, but they're professionals. They aren't opportunists."

The burglary spree is the second time in four years that professional rings have targeted the upscale hillside neighborhoods which overlook Los Angeles.

Two years ago, there were similar break-ins that detectives believe involved inside information on the part of the burglars, who were never caught.

Meanwhile city officials have offered 50,000-dollar reward for anyone who helps catch the robbers behind the recent spree.

"These guys are a two-man hillside crime wave. They are quick-hit artists," said Councilman Jack Weiss.

"They are clearly knowledgeable and sophisticated. They are not hot prowlers, and they focus exclusively on homes that aren't occupied."

Agence France-Presse

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