Being a celebrity comes with a lot of perks, but one of the downsides that comes with fame is the lack of privacy because of overexposure. Never has celebrity privacy been more violated than in the rash of home robberies by the notorious “Bling Ring.” The notorious ring was a group of brash teens and young adults who broke into the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and other pop culture icons from October 2008 until around August 2009, getting away with approximately three million in ill-gotten goods.
The success of these underage thieves was thanks to lax security at these well-known homes. While nearly every house that was hit had multiple layers of security, from gated communities to surveillance cameras and alarms, the Bling Ring was able to get in, party, load up on designer labels and get out without having to utilize lock picks or any other sophisticated means of gaining entry.
To understand exactly what went wrong, and how you can avoid falling into the same security holes, here’s a breakdown of what these celebs did wrong, and what we can learn from them.
1. Don’t Broadcast Your Amazing Possessions and Whereabouts via Social Media.
With incessant updates on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites, it was easy for the Bling Ring to monitor the comings and goings of the celebrities they targeted. Audrina Patridge’s house was hit while she was at the Academy Awards. Orlando Bloom and his then-girlfriend Miranda Kerr were both out of town. The nefarious teens had no worries about being interrupted because they were keeping tabs on their victims’ whereabouts the whole time.
2. Don’t Leave a Key Under the Mat.
Everyone is likely to lock themselves out of the house at one time or another, so leaving a spare key somewhere convenient is a big help. However, thanks to a lack of creativity on the part of celebutaunt Paris Hilton, her spare key was just waiting to be used by ill-intended intruders as it was simply placed in the most obvious place ever, right under the welcome mat.
3. Lock Your Doors.
Forget spare keys; it turned out the robbers didn’t need to use that easily-discovered spare key after all because when they tried Paris’ front door, it wasn’t even locked. Several of the other homes that were targeted also had either front doors, sliding glass doors or gates that were left unlocked. A false sense of security and the idea that they were inaccessible led these celebs to be careless and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of goods.
4. If You Have an Alarm–Set it.
Almost as bad as leaving the front door unlocked, is not setting the alarm before you leave. Every celebrity home that was victimized had a security system; however, none of them were set. In their official testimony several of the victims stated that they “thought” they had set the alarm but admitted to not being sticklers when it came to securing their homes before heading out.
5. Secure the Doggy Door.
Everyone loves their furry friends and if you can make their lives easier with doggie doors, why not? However, an unsecured doggie door is an open invitation into your home. While there is no evidence that the doggie door was used, Brian Austin Green did mention that it could have been one of several ways the Bling Ring got into his home.
6. Use 24/7 Monitoring and Live Streaming Remote Access.
We know all these celebrities have smartphones, and they all admitted having home security systems, so why did none of them take advantage of remote access that lets them check in on their Hollywood mansion in real time? The crew of celebrity raiders was caught on tape repeatedly. If anyone had stopped for just five seconds to check in, the rash of robberies could have been ended much sooner. In addition, they could have paid for round-the-clock monitoring from their security company – that way someone else would have been keeping an eye on things without interrupting their rock and roll lifestyle.
Thankfully, these victims learned from their mistakes. Each targeted celeb made significant improvements in their security shortly afterwards, hiring additional security professionals, removing space keys from under mats, installing additional technology and actually turning on their systems when they leave the house. Public statements were made proclaiming their new security levels to the world. Fortunately, we can learn from their mistakes and avoid the security mistakes that were the downfall for these famous folks.
Even if you aren’t in the spotlight, it’s important you take these steps to keep your home secure. For an added layer of protection, make sure you have a monitored security system in your home. To find the right one for you, check out the SafeWise security system finder tool.
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more