The story behind 'The Real Bling Ring'—what to know ahead of the Netflix doc

A group of teens was responsible for one of the most notorious robberies in Hollywood history

nick prugo of the real bling ring: hollywood heist on a computer screen researching celeb homes
(Image credit: Netflix)

Whether it was Orlando Bloom's watch collection, Rachel Bilson's Chanel bags or even the drugs buried in the crevices of Paris Hilton's closet, the real Bling Ring crew knew no limits. 

The group of high schoolers involved in one of the most notorious heists in Hollywood rose to fame with a highly-profiled case, followed by a fictionalized film directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Emma Watson. Now, Netflix is reliving the 2000s mayhem with a three-part docu-series featuring interviews from two members of the guilty party: Alexis Haines, née-Neiers, and Nick Norgo (Prugo). 

"I didn't come here to, like, save face, I came here to be honest," Haines says in the trailer. 

At a time when the term "celebrity" was being redefined and social media was making its way into the mainstream, a group of fame-hungry teens began breaking into homes of of reality stars and actors, walking away with clothing, accessories and at times, drugs. However, it seemed like the hottest commodity of them all was the attention they received, not the merchandise (though they were shown on social sporting their loot). 

As we hear an attorney state in the trailer: "It's kind of like a f***** up LA Greek tragedy."

Before watching the next true crime on Netflix, and rereading Vanity Fair's Nancy Joe Sales' extensive coverage of the case, here's a reminder of how it all unfolded. 

The 'Bling Ring' true story

New Netflix docu-series have taken on grim events—The Sins of Our Mother focuses on Doomsday mom Lori Vallow while I Just Killed My Dad questions the difference between murder and self-defense. The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist takes a glitzier approach to the true crime genre.

From 2008 to 2009, a group of teens began "checking doors," in Los Angeles, seeing which vehicles were unlocked and contained valuables. They graduated to robbing homes of reality stars and celebrities with the help of sites like TMZ to ensure that their intended target would be out of town. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Audrina Patridge and Orlando Bloom were but a few of the victims.

Collectively, the group of teens stole more than $3 million in items, according to the famed Vanity Fair reporting. The key players in question were best friends Nick Prugo and Rachel Lee, who ultimately allowed friends and acquaintances Courtney Ames, Diana Tamayo, Roy Lopez Jr. and Alexis Neiers to partake in the robberies as well. (Here's where they are now, in case you're wondering.) 

security footage from the real bling ring hollywood heist that shows the teens on the street

(Image credit: Netflix)

According to The Sun, Lee, the main brainchild of these string of robberies, spent 16 months in jail but now has a TV screenplay in the works, and considers her time in prison as a blessing in disguise. Ames and Tamayo were sentenced to probation time and community service. Lopez Jr. was sentenced to three years probation. 

Prugo and Haines are the only two we hear from in the film, and their recounts of the events definitely vary. When these cases unfolded, Haines was in the midst of a potential reality series with E! and Prugo was a former Nickelodeon actor trying to get in with the right crowd. 

Ultimately, Prugo was sentenced to two years in state prison, but only served just one year in county jail. Alexis' time for robbing Orlando Bloom's house was also cut short; she served a little over month of a six-month county jail sentence. She then was sentenced to one year of treatment at SOBA Recovery Center.

"I know we did these horrible things and there were victims, and I deeply do regret those things," Prugo says at the end of the project. "But for me personally, I would just have to say that no matter how badly you want to fit in, a good sense of self does not come from material possessions. If I had a better sense of self, things probably would've been different. But I'm still responsible for what I did." 

Neiers' closing remarks are slightly different: "Burglarizing a home is obviously not ok," she says. "But what drove us was, in part, this societal pressure to be a certain way. These narrative that we were just these celebrity-crazed, self-obsessed teenagers absolutely relieves any onus on the culture and the society that created that obsession in the first place."  

The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist hits Netflix on September 21. You can stream 2013's Bling Ring on Paramount+. 

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.