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LAPD tries to crack down on celebrity 'swatting'

April 05, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein

The Los Angeles Police Department says it's trying to get tough on crank callers who "swat" the homes of celebrities. The most recent example came Thursday when singer Rihanna's home was swatted.

LAPD sources said the department has trained dispatchers to help identify when a crank caller reports violence at the homes of celebrities.

Police have complained that the calls divert resources from responding to real crimes. As a result, the LAPD is sending fewer units to check out incidents they believe are fake, the sources said.

PHOTOS: Celebrity 'swatting' targets

A 12-year-old boy was recently charged with making false threats about supposed incidents at the homes of Justin Bieber and actor Ashton Kutcher.

But many other calls have proven difficult for police to trace.

Other swatting targets over the last year include "The X Factor" judge Simon Cowell, singer Miley Cyrus and the Kardashian-Jenner family.

In the Rihanna case, emergency dispatchers received the call shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday reporting that someone had been shot and wounded inside the singer's home in the 900 block of Rivas Canyon Road, LAPD officer Bruce Borihahn said.

Officers secured the location and quickly determined the call was a hoax. Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Fenty, was not home when police responded to her home.

The incident comes a day after someone contacted police saying there was an assault at Sean Combs' Toluca Lake home. Combs also was not home at the time and police found no evidence of a crime.

No one was hurt in either case, but police said those who engage in swatting -- which gets its name from the large tactical response that can occur in such cases -- should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

The increasing number of such incidents targeting celebrities has California lawmakers considering implementing harsher penalties for such crimes.

Rihanna's boyfriend Chris Brown was also a recent victim of swatting, when someone contacted police and reported domestic violence and a possible shooting at the singer's Hollywood Hills home.

Before that incident, a caller falsely reported shots fired at actor Tom Cruise's Beverly Hills home.

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Twitter: @anblanx |Facebook | Google +

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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