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Celebrity burglaries puts spotlight on aggressive paparazzi

Caught on tape

The methods allegedly used by a group of teenagers suspected by authorities of burglarizing the homes of such stars as Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Paris Hilton has raised concerns about the intrusive glare of the paparazzi.

According to police detectives, the group used celebrity websites and paparazzi photos to track schedules and movements of the people they are suspected of burglarizing. They looked for times when the stars were scheduled to either be out of town or attending movie premieres, award ceremonies or other events, police said.

"A good copy of a star map and some tabloid magazine, and you're good to go," said Blair Berk, a well-known Hollywood attorney who represents some of the victims.

Berk and others have expressed growing alarm at the depth to which paparazzi invade the lives of celebrities. Three years ago, there was much discussion about a new, aggressive group of photographers who relentlessly followed certain young stars wherever they went.

Britney Spears was perhaps the most striking example, as photographers camped outside her home and followed her around L.A. in caravans.

Berk said such coverage provides a unwitting road map to anyone wanting to get close to celebrities.

"Paparazzi shots and magazine coverage are increasingly prying into the private homes, schools and personal possessions of stars," Berk said. "That [is] increasingly creating a very real danger in terms of mentally ill stalkers and criminals."

"There are only so many shots of a star's back gate before someone, be it a stalker or burglar, goes through it," she added.

Photographers have argued that they are simply feeding the public's desire to see their favorite celebrities -- often living their own lives. They have also questioned how much personal information one can glean from the photos.

Four teens -- Rachel Lee, 19; Diana Tamayo, 19; Courtney Ames, 18; and Alexis Neiers, 18 -- were arrested last week on suspicion of burglary in several of the recent cases involving celebrities. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has not filed charges against them. LAPD sources said detectives have linked the teenagers to break-ins at the homes of Hilton, Lohan, Bloom and "The O.C." star Rachel Bilson.

Most of the group were classmates at Indian Hills High School, a continuation campus in Agoura Hills.

-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: A video still from a surveillance camera shows three females attempting to enter the Hollywood Hills home of actress Lindsay Lohan in August. Credit: Los Angeles Police Department

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Comments () | Archives (17)

Time to do something about the paparazzi and privacy laws. Maybe if we attack these douchebags with some regulation, we can get Google to address privacy concerns too. Google map your house, sometime. Very dangerous proposition. There's way too much access to personal information, like where someone lives. If some creep wants to stalk you or find you, they can, very very very easily.

Genius! Would it really be so much more difficult without the paparazzi? As an office worker, I would expect a half decent burglar monitoring my movements to quickly conclude I am out between 8am and 6pm, Mon - Fri. I also recall a spate of English footballers who had their houses broken into between 3pm and 6pm on a Saturday afternoon. How could someone have possibly worked out the property would be unattended!!

If the LAPD has evidence linking them to the crimes why have they not been arrested and charged?

"Celebrities" such as Paris Hilton cultivate this kind of 24/7 coverage to make a living. Their very own Twitter posts telegraph their whereabouts to the paparazzi and to criminals.

I take issue with a portion of your statement. "mentally ill stalkers" is an unfair and uncalled for stereotype. To claim all stalkers have a mental health problem is incorrect and ignorant. It is this type of demonizing people with mental health issues that causes people to be descriminated against.Blair Berk should apologize and seek sensitivity training-or at least think about what she says before saying it.

All you would have to do would be use their twitter/fbook/social networking accounts to follow them. Many powerful people who are willing participants of sites like these report live feeds of their whereabouts and goings on around town.
Perhaps the stars themselves should be more aware of the dichotomy of the ability to create buzz-worthy tweets and the consistent and willful offering of information to potential thieves/stalkers/stargazing crazed media hounds of the world.

All four of the suspects are over 18. Legal ADULTS! Why is the L.A. Times referring to them as teenagers? They commit an adult crime, make 'em do adult time, I say.

Not all stalkers are mentally ill, either. As a former stalker, I believe I am quite sound.

Oh. I thought you meant grocery stalker.

No, we shouldn't demonize mental illness, but as the child of a bipolar parent, it's equally wrong to do the PC white-wash on its effects. Part of psychological health is having a realistic understanding of your place in the world vis a vis other people. If you can't process that Celebrity X is not in love with you, and is terrified by your unrelenting attention, you are not merely a benignly besotted fan, you are someone with a mental health problem. Berk does not need sensitivity training or to offer an apology. Her description was spot-on.

Teens? These are women. Of course they have the minds of demented and self centered brats. They should be sent to jail. What a group of pathetic losers!

The Neiers family are the most vile disgusting people I have ever met. Tess "Taylor" Adler is NOT related to them.
They are pretending to be sisters for their reality show.

If E! network goes forward with this program, the truth will come out about this family, and they make Balloon Boy Heenes and Jon/Kate look like saints.

There are some really decent families here with exceptionally talented children who deserve to be recognized and rewarded. The Neiers family are the lowest form of humans in this community.

I'd like to point out that Perez Hilton intimated that some of these robberies were "inside" jobs. He implied that the victims were themselves behind the crimes. He certainly said as much about the Lohan job.

It's just another new low in tabloid web journalism "innovated" by Perez.

thank you so muchooooooooooooo iam a mental patient myself

Haven't these idiot celebrities heard of burglar alarms before?

Any celeb's need a short time house sitter, I'm available!I deter invasion with a clean, big, lovable dog. It works! Everybody understands the language of "big dog"!

What I don't understand about this rash of burglaries of celebrity homes is don't they have burglar alarms on their homes? We're talking about well known people with money robbed by a bunch of kids. I don't get it...

If I was a celebrity, I wouldn't keep such valuables in the house. I would also make sure I had extraordinary security! Why give these bums an easy way to invade your home?


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