LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Authorities have linked a suspect to a series of break-ins at celebrity homes in the Hollywood Hills over the past two years that resulted in the theft of millions of dollars' worth of items.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, Los Angeles police announced the arrest of 32-year-old Benjamin Eitan Ackerman in connection with the burglaries of at least 13 homes starting in 2017. Ackerman was taken into custody on Sept. 20.
"Ackerman targeted high-end celebrity homes that were for sale, or were being shown during open house appointments," LAPD Capt. Cory Palka said Wednesday.
He would pose as an interested buyer or a real estate broker looking to show the property, Palka added.
Among his victims were singers Usher, Jason Derulo and Adam Lambert, reality star Dorit Kemsley from "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," and actress Rebecca Hutton, police said. Derulo's home was burglarized in September of 2017. At the time, police said jewelry and $300,000 cash was taken.
In one case, Ackerman also targeted a "family friend," police alleged.
According to detectives, more than 2,000 stolen items were recovered during the investigation, including clothes, jewelry, art, electronics, fine wine, sports memorabilia and purses. Photos of the recovered items were later released by the LAPD and posted online.
A search warrant served at Ackerman's home and a storage unit turned up the hundreds of stolen items.
"We estimate the total worth in the millions of dollars, multiple millions of dollars," LAPD Det. Jared Timmons said.
Timmons said many of the recovered items still have to be verified.
"We have diamond necklaces, we have to see what type of diamonds they are, whose they are and what the actual values are," Timmons said. "As you can see, we have high-end artwork, again those need to be appraised, see if they've been damaged by the suspect."
Timmons described Ackerman as "very sophisticated." Detectives are still working to identify if he had any accomplices.
"In a lot of these cases, we see tampered surveillance videos," Timmons said.
Ackerman is from Los Angeles and has ties to New York. He has a prior criminal record.
Ackerman's arrest comes after four members of a suspected burglary ring were captured in October, also accused of targeting the homes of celebrities, including former Los Angeles Dodger Yasiel Puig, Rams receiver Robert Wood and singer Rihanna.
On Sept. 27, burglars broke into the Woodland Hills home of Woods while he was was playing against the Minnesota Vikings at Memorial Coliseum. Two days prior, on Sept. 25, the Hollywood Hills home of singer Rihanna was broken into for the second time in a span of five months.
On Sept. 18, three burglars broke into Puig's Encino home, at least the fourth time the slugger's home had been hit by burglars in the past 18 months.
On Aug. 25, two suspects broke into the Sherman Oaks area home of rapper Wiz Khalifa while he was away. Other victims include Demi Lovato, Floyd Mayweather, Rhonda Rousey, Jason Derulo, David Spade, Drake, Scott Disick, Rakim Mayers, Alanis Morissette, Fabio, Amber Rose, Nicki Minaj, Kendall Jenner, Derek Fisher, Emmy Rossum and Jaime Pressley.
Ackerman remains free on bail. Anyone who has information on the case should call LAPD detectives at 213-972-2928.
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