For more than a year, Los Angeles police have been puzzled by a series of sophisticated burglaries targeting some of Tinseltown’s biggest celebrities and athletes.
As the list of victims grew to include L.A. Dodgers player Yasiel Puig, singer-actresses Rihanna and Christina Milian among others, the heists became the talk of Hollywood.
On Tuesday, police announced the arrests of four members of a crew after a break-in at the San Fernando Valley home of L.A. Rams player Robert Woods during a game last week. The crew is believed to be responsible for earlier burglaries, including those targeting Puig and Rihanna, LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza said during a news conference Tuesday.
And it appears the suspects had bigger plans, police said.
Inside the home of one of the burglary crew members was a list of a dozen future targets that included LeBron James, Viola Davis and Matt Damon, Carranza said. She said detectives suspect the crew may be responsible for many other celebrity burglaries beyond Puig, Milian and Rihanna.
Carranza said the burglars referred to their target selection as “flocking.”
“They flock like birds to areas where the rich and famous resided,” she said. “Once a potential target home was selected, a larger vehicle would be utilized to give the suspects the opportunity to change into more comfortable clothing and hoodies to avoid being recognized and cart away the stolen goods,” Carranza said.
Tyress Lavon Williams, 19; Damaji Corey Hall, 18; and Jshawne Lamon Daniels, 19, were apprehended after fleeing Woods’ house Friday evening on suspicion of burglary, Carranza said. Hall’s mother Ashle Jennifer Hall, 34, was arrested on suspicion of grand theft.
Williams has been charged by the district attorney with four burglaries that targeted a French singer on Aug. 24; Puig's residence on Sept. 18; a home owned by Rihanna on Sept. 25; and a residence owned by Woods on Thursday. Williams listed his job as a landscaper when he was booked, records show.
Carranza said the three men are gang members. Found inside one of their homes were $50,000 in cash plus a pile of Rolexes, purses and jewels.
During the news conference, Woods called the LAPD to say he saw his watches on display.
Carranza said a search of an SUV with the men inside led to property stolen from Woods’ home and a firearm.
Woods was playing against the Minnesota Vikings when police received a call about a break-in at his home on Mariano Street about 7:20 p.m. Thursday. Police found the rear sliding glass door smashed and the residence ransacked. A review of security surveillance video showed three hooded suspects with their faces covered going through the home.
After police determined that one of the men was a suspect in the Woods burglary and made an arrest about 11:30 p.m., a search of his vehicle yielded several items alleged to have been taken from the homes of Puig, Rihanna and Milian, according to a source who was not authorized to discuss the investigation.
Williams also matched an image captured by a security camera during a recent break-in at Puig’s home, the source said.
Puig has been the victim of four burglaries, including two last month at his home in Encino. Like Woods’ break-in, the latest burglary unfolded during game time. A security system, however, alerted Puig’s entourage to the burglary, and police were called.
LAPD investigators suspect Williams deliberately targeted athletes during times when they would be away from their homes.
The burglars dressed nicely in shirts to surveil the celebrity homes, calling it flocking. They then changed into hoodies, banged on the door and when no one answered, they broke in and headed for the master suite to begin their search for valuables, Carranza said.
While Puig was helping secure another Dodgers victory on a Tuesday night last month, investigators suspect Williams broke into his home on Louise Avenue.
Surveillance footage revealed that the intruders had broken in through a door, according to sources.
Burglars first hit a home Puig owns in Sherman Oaks in March 2017 and made off with at least $170,000 worth of jewelry. He was one of several celebrities whose homes were seemingly targeted by burglary crews seeking high-end jewelry and items sometimes kept in safes.
About an hour after the Dodgers lost Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, officers responded to another burglar alarm at Puig’s Encino home. Officers found a smashed window and items missing. The LAPD’s commercial crimes division is investigating the break-in along with the jewelry theft.
A third burglary occurred at Puig’s residence a month ago, shortly after the end of a Dodgers game. Security cameras linked to a cellphone captured two people trying to break in. Puig, or a member of his entourage, was able to use a speaker on the home’s security system to yell at the men, who ran away.
On Sept.18, two suspects ransacked Puig’s residence and then found a safe in the second-floor master bedroom. On a video, one of the suspects can be seen kicking in the door. The pair then dragged the safe from the master bedroom, down the stairs and through the living room to the front door, according to police.
The suspects fled, leaving the safe in the entrance. About $10,000 in damage was caused to the residence. An inventory is being conducted to determine the remainder of the property loss.
The San Fernando Valley has experienced a spate of celebrity burglaries this year, including break-ins at the home of rapper Wiz Khalifa. A former home of singer Post Malone also was hit.
In 2017, burglars broke into the homes of a dozen other celebrities across the Valley and the Westside. Those break-ins included the Brentwood mansion of Alanis Morissette, where thieves made off with a safe containing $2 million in jewelry and other valuables. In another incident, nearly $500,000 in valuables was stolen from the home of NBA guard Nick Young.