FILE – In this Jan. 9, 2013 file photo, US actor Tom Cruise poses for photographers during a news conference of his film “Jack Reacher” in Tokyo. Cruise is one of several stars whose homes have been targeted by pranksters who place fake 911 calls to try to draw out large police responses in a hoax known as swatting. A hoax call on Jan. 17, 2013 tied up half of Beverly Hills’ emergency responders and remains under investigation. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Celebrities have long contended with the occasional downsides of stardom — tabloid scandals, stalkers, box office bombs, the paparazzi. Now, add “swatting” to the list — a prank that sends police charging to the gates of stars’ homes on false reports of gunmen, hostages or other crimes in progress.
Instead of bad guys, responding officers, police dogs, helicopters and sometimes SWAT teams have found only stunned domestic and security staff unaware of any trouble — because there wasn’t any.
The recent hoax 911 calls to the homes of Tom Cruise, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Brown and other stars are leading authorities to eye some 911 calls with extra suspicion and lawmakers to call for stiffer penalties for the pranksters.
“This is a very vexing problem that needs to be fixed at the early stages,” said California State Sen. Ted Lieu, who is proposing tough consequences, including hefty fines, for those caught swatting. “If this isn’t resolved, this will result in a tragic situation.”
Swatting is the rare trend that actually didn’t start in Hollywood. Authorities in Dallas, Washington Login to read more