THE BLOG
04/16/2013 08:41 am ET Updated Jun 16, 2013

OVER IT: Celebrity Swatting Needs To Stop

We'll admit we enjoy a good celebrity prank now and then ... for example, the time Lindsay Lohan was showered with gold glitter, or when Justin Bieber punk'd Taylor Swift.

But there's one stunt that really has us peeved: "Swatting," an obnoxious hoax in which someone falsely reports a crime, often using caller ID spoofing -- technology that makes the call seem as though it's coming from the celebrity's house -- in order to prompt an emergency police response.

Among the rapidly growing list of boldface victims are Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Ashton Kutcher, Russell Brand, Ryan Seacrest, Tom Cruise, Selena Gomez, Rihanna and Chris Brown.

Swatting is frighteningly easy to pull off (a 12-year-old fessed up to having been responsible for the swatting incidents at both Kutcher and Bieber's homes), wastes police resources and has dangerous consequences.

"When we do get these calls, we always take them very seriously," Sergeant Moreno of the Beverly Hills police told the New York Times last week. "We never assume that it's another one of these swatting calls. We respond with every available resource that we have, including the fire department and paramedics on standby."

Lt. Marc Reina of the Los Angeles police's Hollywood division told the Times that the pranks put the LAPD in a "precarious position," explaining, "If officers are thinking it could be swatting, maybe they let their guard down approaching the home. What happens if one of these days, it's a real incident? The safety of everyone involved could be jeopardized because of this boy crying wolf."

So, what's to be done?

For starters, because the pranksters are thought to be motivated by publicity, the LAPD announced last week that it would stop issuing press releases so as to discourage those simply looking for media attention and eliminate copycat reactions.

And legislation to combat the high cost of dispatching SWAT teams is already being discussed. California state Sen. Ted Lieu has put forward a bill that would order perpetrators of swatting to pay police the full cost of the incident -- up to $10,000. According to ABC News, the bill might reach the Senate floor by June.

LAPD spokeswoman Sally Nadera told ABC News, "We are very frustrated because it's definitely a waste of resources. This is public money that is being used. Many officers are responding to these calls when they should be responding to where crimes are being committed."

Kids will be kids, and we'd be lying if we said we never made a few prank calls in our day ... but they didn't involve 911, never created a law-enforcement crisis and, unlike swatting, were actually funny.

(And don't even get us started on doxxing.)