Celebrity stalkers track Twitter and Facebook pages to plot burglaries.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
In 1960s Los Angeles, Charlie Manson’s bloodthirsty hippies tried to start a revolution by slaughtering rich people. In 1980s Los Angeles, the cash-hungry yuppies of the Billionaire Boys Club turned to murder to bolster their bank accounts. In contemporary Los Angeles, a new youthful crime crew has emerged recently – the Hollywood Burglar Bunch. Four 18 – or 19-year-old girls, one 18-year-old boy, and one 27-year-old man have been arrested in connection with a string of break-ins at homes owned by Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and various other celebrities. A seventh suspect, a 27-year-old club promoter, remains on the lam.
While less lethal than its predecessors, the Hollywood Burglar Bunch is no less tapped into the zeitgeist of its era. The whole thing sounds like a template for TruTV’s edgiest reality series: A sexy posse of sticky-fingered clotheshorses use Google and Internet gossip sites to plan heists on the homes of the entertainment industry elite. Think of the product placement opportunities. (“This week, the Burglar Bunch sets its sights on Megan Fox’s Christian Louboutin Ponyhair Tote, and also snags a one-of-a-kind prototype of Lady Gaga’s upcoming signature perfume!”) Think of the cross-promotional potential. (“While Adam Sandler’s in Boston filming The Zookeeper – stay tuned for exclusive on-set footage – the Burglar Bunch invades his Pacific Palisades mansion and swipes his priceless collection of mint-condition Superman comics!”)
PERHAPS THERE REALLY ARE SOME PEOPLE IN AMERICA WHO STILL VALUE SOMETHING OVER FAME, EVEN IF IT’S JUST A STOLEN ROLEX.
And think of how it illuminates celebrity’s diminishing grip on us all. In an earlier time, stars were rare, potent, dazzling beings. Now that surplus Kardashian sisters and random YouTube cats occupy the VIP lounge of pop culture, fame has lost its bling. The quintessential celebrity stalker of the past was a creepy loner. But celebrity stalking by the Burglar Bunch was a group activity – the stars seemed pretty superfluous. Alleged ringleader Rachel Lee may have been obsessed with celebrity fashion, and her cohorts may have monitored their quarry even more tirelessly than Perez Hilton, tracking their comings and going via Twitter and Facebook updates as they plotted the best time to strike. But they weren’t particularly interested in the stars they stalked as performers or aspirational figures, or even as pop culture punching bags. They just liked their taste in luxury handbags.
Oh, sure, at least one of the suspects, Alexis Neiers (also known as Alexis Arlington) is pursuing stardom. She recently shot a pilot for an E! reality series with her two model sisters, and on her own ModelMayhem.com, reports that she has been “trained by the most artistic and best pole dancers in the world.”
But where are their own DIY Internet attempts to glorify their exploits? Didn’t these photogenic, fashion-conscious thieves have Flickr accounts, CrackBerry addictions, a potentially incriminating but nonetheless undeniable urge to post ironic YouTube footage of themselves ransacking Lindsay Lohan’s medicine cabinet?
And what about the paparazzi? While picture-snapping parasites are apparently such a permanent presence in celebrity juniper bushes now that most A-list stars no longer feel the need to invest in elaborate security systems, they were inexplicably MIA. Except for grainy surveillance camera footage, virtually no real-time documentation of these robberies appears to exist. How can that not fill you with hope? Perhaps there really are some people in America who still value something over fame, even if it’s just a stolen Rolex. Perhaps on at least one night a year, every paparazzi in Los Angeles has somewhere better to be than Lindsay Lohan’s driveway. This sordid tale just may be the feel-good story of the year.