Arrest after spate of celebrity burglaries

Benjamin Ackerman, 32Image copyright

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Benjamin Ackerman, 32, is alleged to have posed as a potential buyer or real estate agent

A man has been arrested in connection with a series of burglaries targeting the homes of celebrities in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles police say.

Hundreds of stolen items said to be worth millions of dollars were found when investigators searched properties linked to Benjamin Ackerman, 32.

Mr Ackerman is alleged to have posed as a buyer to survey the homes before the burglaries, which began in 2017.

Among the victims are the musicians Usher and Adam Lambert, police said.

Thirteen victims have so far been identified.

Announcing the arrest on Wednesday, Los Angeles Police Detective Jared Timmons said “high value” property was recovered by investigators from Mr Ackerman’s home and a separate storage unit.

Images of the items collected have been posted on a website to help police investigators identify any further victims in order to return them.

Mr Ackerman allegedly pretended to be a real estate agent or potential home buyer to access the properties at open houses and on some occasions falsely claimed to work for an investment firm, police said.

“When he showed up he was dressed to the nines. He acted the part. He was very slick,” Mr Timmons said.

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Singer Usher has been named by police as one of the victims

Among the more than 2,000 items included stolen art, clothing, handbags, fine wines and jewellery.

Mr Timmons said the operation, which involved the “touring” of houses that would later be targeted, was “sophisticated” and included tampering with surveillance cameras.

“Sometimes they were just ripped out and other times the cameras would simply go black until several hours after the burglary occurred,” he said.

Mr Ackerman, who is from the Los Angeles area and has a criminal record, has “connections in New York”, Mr Timmons added.

The investigation is ongoing as authorities try to establish the extent of the operation and identify any others who may be involved.

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